Just as an Archgod is about to banish all the evil goblins from the world with his enchanted pipe, three impatient Taoist gods disrupt the spell. The goblins are freed, the Archgod vanishes and two wizards fight it out for possession of the pipe. Hwa Dam traps Woo Chi in a scroll, with the help of the three inept Taoists gods.
And then we jump from 1509 to 2009. Hwa Dam has been corrupted by the pipe and the three inept Taoists gods, one of whom then becomes a Christian priest, realise they need Woo Chi back. But he’s more interested in pursuing the reincarnation of a widow he kidnapped back in 1509, now working as a personal stylist to a film star.
There are many familiar elements to the story, such as the lazy drunken student who ultimately becomes a master and the servile comedy sidekick. Dong-won Kang as Woo Chi, a Korean Catweazle, delivers the comedy very well, especially on being brought back into the world in 2009, but I struggled with him more as the heroic warrior wizard. There was a lack of gravity, and for once I don’t mean there was lots of wire-fu.
The effects – physical and computer generated – are excellent. You expect a high standard of wire-fu now, and this physicality is supported with such breathlessly fast CG magic tricks that you barely register what’s just happened. There’s also lovely design work on the goblins – such as the rabbit in armour – but these are too fleetingly used to create a real sense of menace from them.
The biggest problem, however, is with the revelation of a plot/character twist in the final twenty minutes. This is very ineptly handled. The twist itself is simple enough, and had been nicely led up to, but the sequence of events that cause it are bewilderingly presented. The motive for one character’s change in behaviour are opaque, causing a total WTF.
‘Woochi the Demon Slayer’ is great fun, but it’s not actually great.