During the reign of King Sejong in the 15th century, the Joseon Dynasty was the embodiment of the perfect state. To the Ming China, the aspiring imperial power, Joseon presented an obstacle to territorial expansion. To protect themselves from war, King Sejong develops a secret weapon to defend their territory and take back their land and supremacy. Written by
DIVINE WEAPON aims to ride the wave of historical epics that have currently been taking Asia by storm over the last decade; you know the ones, invariably involving the likes of Andy Lau and a cast of CGI-augmented thousands battling over the fate of kingdoms. This is the second Korean take on the genre I've seen recently, after the inventive LEGEND OF THE SHADOWLESS SWORD, but it's not as good as that movie. In fact, it's quite boring, an ultra-slow moving tale (glacial would be a better descriptor) of courtly intrigue and rebellion.
The idea of a top-secret and, for the time, futuristic, weapon is a good one, but little is done with the premise. In a bid to whip life into the flagging main body of his picture, director Yoo-jin Kim paces out a series of fight scenes in WELCOME TO DONGMAKGOL's Jae-yeong Jeong battles various opponents with his mighty blade, but the choreography is fumbled and the insistence on filming such sequences in half-light to hide any inconsistencies, either technical or physical, is a poor one.
In fact, action fans are only served by a climactic battle which is good, if cheesy, fun, although it comes too little too late, sadly. Until that point, there's tiresome romance, the usual Korean concerns with 'evil' foreign powers (China bears the brunt of its hatred this time around) and more sitting around and talking than you can shake a stick at. Yeah, it's definitely one to avoid
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