Thursday, July 26, 2018

Fantasia '18 Film Review - The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion

The aftermath of a medical/research facility massacre greats the audience in the first few frames of the film. A shadowy female (Cho Min-soon) seems to be in charge as she chastises her underlings. Another black clad figure (Park Hee-soon) appears to be head of security that is searching for the two children that escaped the facility. One a boy returns while the other a young girl escapes recovered by an elderly couple on the outskirts of the facility grounds that take her in as their own daughter.

Jump ahead ten years the girl Ja-Yo (Kim Da-mi) is now 19 and still at home with her adopted parents. She helps out on the farm comes first in all of her classes but appears weak in all physical activities. Her fortunes turn when she auditions for a national talent show egged on by her best friend Myung-hee (Ko Min-shi). First, she meets a mysterious boy (Choi Woo-shik) about her age on the train to Seoul then is confronted by a hit squad as she is leaving the television studio.

Director Park Hoon-Jung hits all the beats that mark a South Korean thriller. There are stylishly dressed villains, slick vehicles, gunplay, hand to hand combat, tough guy lines and an abundance of black attire. At the top of this pyramid is a young high school girl suffering from amnesia running around in sweats and a hoddie when not in her school uniform.

Newcomer (Kim Da-mi) leads the cast as Ja-Yo her complex character is the sweet and innocent straight A student Country girl on the talent show but when switched on a lethal killer that scares the toughest veteran. Choi Woo-shik is very effective as Gong-Ja second only to Ja -Yo in their youth training days. He has a calm playful approach to intimidation switching from Korean to perfect English when he really wants to make a point. Mainstay actors Cho-Min-Soon and Park Hee-soon anchor the cast as Professor Baek and Mr. Choi respectively.  While Ko Min -shi as Ja-Yo's bestie future manager/ sleepover pal Myung-hee seems to steal scenes that she is in on a regular basis.

The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion checks all the boxes for a South Korean action film. Director Park brings to the screen a project that has Jason Bourne elements working in unison with child assassin  training films of the past. The movie is evenly paced taking the time needed to set up storylines and  characters for the payoff to come. It's a satisfying tour of covert operations that I can highly recommend.

**** Out of 4.

The Witch Part 1 The Subversion | Park Hoon-Jung | South Korea | 125 Minutes.

Tags: Escape, Amnesia, Enhancements, Assassin, Talent Show, Levitation, Alzheimer's, Farm,

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