By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
I get lots of screener emails – it’s part of being on the periphery of “the biz” with a site that’s been running this long (and courtesy of our contributor Rob Perez, who always passes his along, too). There’s far more than you could ever keep up with, but when a Korean movie crosses my bows I always jump.
It’s usually worked out pretty damn well.
The Divine Fury is about a young boy who loses his policeman father and takes a dark path that sees him become the premiere MMA fighter in the world. A man who hates God due his childhood, nonetheless he chances across an exorcism about to go horribly wrong and MMAs a demon right up. Turns out he has a special power for this, so he teams up with the veteran exorcist to exorcise all the way to the top- to the Dark Bishop that has Seoul in his thrall.
This is another left field genre mashup out of Korea- in this case an exorcism film meets an MMA fighter flick that somehow threads the needle between genuinely freaky exorcism sequences that fairly successfully evoke The Exorcist and more video-gamey elements like the ladder climb to the final boss fight, which may be on the cheesy side except for the execution, but which really works.
All-in-all, this is a very well shot film, with typically great production values from Korean craftsmen who are as accomplished as anyone working on your typical Hollywood film. Director Jason Kim finds some really horrific imagery and concepts and delivers on them, so much so that he successfully draws you into the story as nonsensical as it is on paper. At the end you’ve fully bought into that boss fight and are even all-in on a sequel- there’s always more demons to fight, after all.
The beginning of the film, establishing the protagonist’s tragic backstory, is all over-lit domestic scenes and hard, hard foreshadowing what will happen to dear old Dad. It’s pretty bad, and it took awhile for the film to recover from it.
A typical Korean film vice, this is longer than it needs to be, but atypically, it’s also ultimately as predictable as it first appeared. All of the genre trappings don’t really mask a pretty basic structure, not that it ultimately harms your enjoyment of the film. It’s all in the execution.
The Divine Fury is a surprisingly solid addition to the Korean genre film cannon, an inventive horror mashup that starts shaky, but takes you along for a ride.
The Divine Fury (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever anyone’s eyes turn red
Take a Drink: every time Yong-hoo MMAs up some demons
Take a Drink: for every holy water conflagration
Take a Drink: every time somebody is saved from being strangled in the nick of time
Do a Shot: whenever someone cuts their own hand