A widowed father and taxi driver who drives a German reporter from Seoul to Gwangju to cover the 1980 uprising, soon finds himself regretting his decision after being caught in the violence around him.
While Korea is occupied by the Japanese Army in 1933, the resistance plans to kill the Japanese Commander. But their plan is threatened by a traitor within their group and also the enemies' forces are hunting them down.
SPOILER: In the second credits scene, 1,000 years ago, Gang-lim's father is seen dying, and is approached by Yeomra about taking over his position. He does so, taking on the appearance of the former Yeomra. This means, all along, over 1,000 years as a Reaper in the afterlife, the Yeomra Gang-lim has been serving all along has been his own father he was desperately seeking the forgiveness of. See more »
If the first movie epitomises redemption, then the sequel dives headlong into forgiveness. Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds was a helluva ride through the underworld; the only misstep for me is how it went overboard with the ludicrous special effects. By that I mean how the vengeful spirit and Gang Rim go mano a mano with the city as their playground. The sequel, Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days, was shot together with the massively popular first film and it has become the second all-time box-office grosser in South Korea. However, it is an overstuffed shadow of the first film.
The sequel begins moments after the end of The Two Worlds, with the three guardians, Gang Rim (Ha Jung-woo), Haewonmak (Ju Ji-hoon) and Lee Dukchun (Kim Hyang-gi) guiding their 49th soul Kim Soo-hong (Kim Dong-wook), the brother of Kim Ja-hong, to the trials for his reincarnation. The stakes are higher because if it is successful, the three guardians will also be reincarnated.
King Yeomra (Lee Jung-jae), Lord of the Afterlife, agrees to a fair trail on the condition that Gang Rim proceeds with the case on his own, while Haewonmak and Dukchun go down to the world of humans to dispatch a troublesome housegod Sung-joo (Ma Dong-seok) and ascend an overdue soul.
The Last 49 Days has a lot to live up to and it just could not sustain under the weight of expectations set by its predecessor. The first half becomes a bit of a slog with the pacing largely going missing and the world-building taking a backseat. This is a case of lightning not being able to strike the same spot twice.
Firstly, the chemistry between the three guardians of the Afterlife went missing in the first two acts, partly because Gang Rim and his compatriots are separated. Like The Two Worlds, the narrative becomes two-pronged but sadly neither reaches the same dizzying levels. Soo-hong makes for an annoying and smart-alecky character, who doesn't garner the same sympathy as his brother, Ja-hong. It is a good move that the story doesn't go through the same process as Ja-hong but what takes its place doesn't make for compelling viewing, and dinosaurs don't help. Haewonmak and Dukchun fare better because of the intriguing character of Sung-joo, a superb casting choice. However, this time round the Stephen-Chow-resque slapstick comedy is a hit or miss.
Secondly, director Kim Yong-hwa couldn't quite find the right balance between the light fantastic and the hard-hitting drama, which led to pacing issues, so much so that I did the dreaded thing - I checked my watch.
However, all is not lost... when the story does hit the final act with the story of the three guardians revealed, it hits its groove. But still, one can't help but feel it came a little too late to save the movie.
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