A young girl escapes a facility after a massacre of children there. Years later, the girl, who can’t remember her past, enters a talent contest, which leads those looking for her to find her…and in doing so, she finds out who she really is…
Asian cinema is on a bit of a roll recently. We’ve had the outstanding Raid films, the stunning Train To Busan and the superb film, The Villainess. Now we have The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion. It’s written and directed by Hoon-jung Park, probably best known to western audiences as the screenwriter of ‘I Saw The Devil.’ That film involved a serial killer and was certainly encroaching into horror territory. This film is a completely different thing.
But the problem with it, is that we won’t know really what it is until the final film comes out. The IMDB suggests it’s the first of a potential trilogy. With ‘Part 1’ in the title and the way this film ends, it certainty that we’ll get at least one more, but with that being the case, this film has to do a lot of exposition, perhaps too much.
There are a number of scenes, where people are simply talking, setting things up to pay off at a later point, possibly in a future film. As a result for the first hour of the film there is little action. We never see the opening massacre, We see some moments of violence, but really it’s not until the second hour the action kicks in.
And what impressive action it is. It doesn’t hold back at all. It’s probably closer to something like The Villainess than The Raid films, but whichever way you look at it, it is exciting, brutal and has moments of humour too which was a pleasant surprise. Certainly as director, Hoon-jung Park stages it very well indeed.
The cast are terrific, with a standout performance from Da-mi Kim as Ja-yoon, the girl at the heart of the story. Starting off as a typical teen girl, before developing into one hell of a heroine.
While it has the feel of something based on a book, or comic-book or manga perhaps, and you can see ideas and elements taken from other films and stories, The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion blends them well for the most part, however you are left at the, slightly frustrating ending it has to be said, waiting to see where the story goes next.
It’s not bad, it just takes its time to get going but when it does it becomes a pretty good action film. But I don’t think you can judge it fairly until we see Part 2, or however many films we get to complete the story.
Whenever that may be.
Rating: *** out of 5