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A thousand years ago, an evil spirit was kept imprisoned in a lake by the first emperor of the Chilla empire. Now unleashed, it possesses the body of Ja Woon-bi, the wife of general Biharang, with the aim to bring down the very dynasty that destroyed his people. Biharang is torn; to kill the spirit, he has to also kill his wife. Written by
What starts out as a fine Korean period piece takes a sudden turn for the super-natural as an ancient spirit returns for revenge upon the empire which imprisoned it. Flying acrobatics abound and the film is all the more entertaining for it.
Going back to B.C. Korea, the rising Shilla empire wipes out an occult clan in the attempt to unify the people. The clan's leader happens to be a powerful sorcerer and promises revenge before being sealed away with a magical sword. Fast forward almost a thousand years and we find the Shilla empire in some disarray; rebels threaten the outer empire and the kingdom's greatest general has left his position to marry a peasant girl. After he finally returns to arms, royal guards attempt to assassinate his wife. While in her own defense, she removes the magic sword from it's resting place, thus unleashing the vengeful spirit and putting the entire empire in danger.
The main plot is a little slim. The evil spirit is largely under developed and the human conflicts are passed over too quickly to generate much emotion. The cause of this is the short running time, 92 minutes does not a lot much time to examine the intricate workings of an ancient Korean political system, much less exploring the super-natural story line. As such, both plots feel like side stories rather than either feeling like the core of the film.
Fortunately the rest of the film makes up for the story's lacking. The budget is obviously not big, but they do a good job of convincing you others wise. The actors are pretty good, so far as the script allows, and the cinematography is catching to the eye. There are some low-rent CG images, but they brief enough so as not to intrude.
The biggest success of the film is the fight scenes, and being a historic war picture that makes up for a lot. Well shot and choreographed, with buckets of blood with nearly every sword strike, the fight scenes evoke a great sense of cathartic release.
A fun action/drama/horror/war picture that just needed a beefed up script to be really great. Regaurdless, still recommended.
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