SPIRITWALKER – Review
Bear with me, dear readers, since I’m in new territory with this high-octane Korean action flick, SPIRITWALKERS. What is not new are the usual cops, crooks and the some-who-may-be-both premise that grounds many of these Asian actioners, nor is an added dimension of sci-fi, as our hero jumps from one body to another every 12 hours, with no memory of who he was before this chain of events began or why it’s occurring. What is new is that even though an explanation emerges, I’m not sure whether it covers what we’ve just seen. So this is the first time I recall endorsing a movie I ultimately didn’t understand.
I’ve enjoyed a slew of Korean action flicks lately, making them a newly acquired taste. In general, the action choreography has been exceptional, as it is in this one. They’ve been cranking out urban grittiness as well as anyone, and better than most – especially in terms of frenetic pacing and acrobatic stunt work, with less dependency on CGI and special effects.
When our guy awakens beside a wrecked SUV with a bullet in his shoulder, his search for identity and backstory begins, while an assortment of bad guys variably embrace or try to kill whoever he happens to look like at the time. We’re never sure if he will prove to deserve our empathy or condemnation, since we never learn anything before he does.
For some, the suspense of his MEMENTO-esque quest (without the benefit of tattooed clues) will last to the end; for others, including me, even partly beyond. As often as I’ve berated movies or TV fare for endings that leave us hanging on key plot points, their (or my) failure to find full closure is surprisingly non-problematic. As the scriptwriter, Jae-guen Yoon may have been clearer about his intentions than in what he delivered in directing his own screenplay. Notwithstanding, his team staged fights and chases so well and frequently, that getting lost on aspects of the denouement taints the product much less than I’d normally conclude.
So if you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, free of romance and other emotional subplots, this one’s a worthy candidate for 108 minutes of your attention. And anyone who understands the given reason for this journey better than I did, is invited to reply in the manner provided below. All theories are truly welcome.
SPIRITWALKER, mostly in Korean with English subtitles, is streaming on digital platform Hi-YAH! as of March 18 and will be available on most digital platforms, as well as on Blu-ray and DVD from Well Go USA Entertainment beginning April 12.
RATING: 2.5 out of 4 stars