Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Woochi: Goblin Wizard (2009)

If you were to bet yourself $1 that I bought this Korean film solely due to the title, yourself would owe you a buck. So you would profit. And so did I, because this was a really fun little romp. I consider myself fortunate that I did not encounter the DVD under one of the other versions of the title, such as Jean Woo-Chi: Taoist Wizard, as I might not have bought it.

Our story begins when the Archgod sets out to imprison all the goblins with the aid of his magic flute. Said "goblins" appear as animal-headed humanoids with superhuman strength and speed. They're bad news, especially the bunny-headed one. And no, I'm not making up the bunny-headed one. It's kind of adorably malevolent, and was my first clue that this was going to be a fun ride.

The attempt to imprison the goblins fails, due to the incompetence of some lesser, servitor gods. The magic flute is lost, and the archgod vanishes, overcome by the goblin's evil. Sometime later, the servitor gods are seeking wizards who can help them imprison the goblins, one by one, while also hoping to find the flute and keep it out of goblin hands. The apprentice of one of the wizards they meet is Woochi. Woochi is young, brash and very much in love with using his powers for his own entertainment and aggrandizement. If you immediately suspect that a theme of the film will be his need to learn that there are better uses for his powers, well, you've clearly seen at least one movie before.

Anyway, for various reasons the movie has a jump from its 500-years-ago timeframe to the modern day, which is when the action really picks up (not that the movie was exactly dragging before that). Woochi must battle goblins, learn important lessons, save the day, and win the girl. Standard adventure fare, really. Fortunately it's very well executed, with good action sequences (both wuxia martial arts and magical duels), and some actually amusing comedic bits. The very, very end of the film feels like a bit of an unnecessary epilogue, though I like that it shows that Woochi, whatever lessons he's learned, is still a bit of a larrikin.

This was fun, and if you don't mind a two hour film with subtitles, and enjoy light-hearted antics, you should check it out.

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