The Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines will be having its first free movie screening on August 18, 6:30pm at the KCC Wave Hall. “Woochi: The Taoist Wizard” will be the showcased movie for the night. I was actually surprised with this choice. Korea has one of the most vibrant and eclectic film industries in the world and I have to admit that I was quite disappointed with this choice for the first movie screening of the center.
Woochi: The Taoist Wizard is a fantasy movie filled with magical elements that takes the viewer through a rollercoaster ride from the Joseon era to modern-day Seoul. At the center of its story is a magical flute that is the key to attaining peace or creating chaos in the world. The struggle for the magic flute takes a turn for the worse when it lands into the hands of Woochi, a mischievous Taoist wizard who spends more time lazying around and running after girls than actually doing good. His carefree days comes to an end when he is accused of murdering his master for the flute and is therefore sentence to be trapped in a painting for 500 years. By sealing Woochi with the magic flute in the painting, peace is achieved. However, when Woochi is finally released in modern-day Seoul – the battle for the magic flute resumes again.
In terms of visual spectacle Woochi is a sight to behold. It is packed with action and special effects that stands at par with the usual Hollywood flick. However, this is all there is if you ask me. It is somewhat of a Harry Potter or a Narnia movie but without a soul or a heart. The storyline is choppy and confusing at best while the editing of the movie suffers from an overly long intro that lasts 45 minutes! Director Cho Dong-Hun may have scored big with this Korean blockbuster but in terms of critical appeal or even simple film appreciation – it is an effort that seems lacking.
This is too bad for the movie since it has a talented cast that have all done better in other films. There’s Kang Dong-Won (Duelist, Temptation of Wolves), one of my favorite movie actors, who manages to give a playful and likeable charm to an otherwise flippant Woochi. Lim Seu-Jeong (A Tale of Two Sisters, I’m A Cyborg But It’s Ok) also gives a credible performance as teh modern-day love interest of Woochi. While Yu Hae-Jin (The King and The Clown) adds some laughs to what could have been an otherwise tedious visual extravaganza.
Still, if you’re looking for a way to pass your time – this is still a reasonable feast for the eyes. Just don’t expect much substance from this movie. It is after all, still about a silly magic flute.