I had a look at the Korean action thriller The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion this week, and while this style of story has been done a number of times before this one was done in a solid and entertaining way that kept the plot, the twists, and action beats coming.
That being said, the film also takes its time, spending the first hour setting up the characters and hinting at the mystery that is at the heart of the story and the character they are centred on, Koo Ja-yoon (Kim Da-mi).
It seems Ja-yoon has a bit of a past though she doesn’t remember it, even though a number of characters are popping up around her intent on having her recall who she is, and come with them, or perhaps just meet her death head-on.
We learn that she was part of a eugenics experiment, one that was intent on creating a perfect human, someone who was the smartest, strongest, and had begun to harness all of their possible abilities, and those that are after her, may be trying to help her or kill her.
There seem to be a lot of parties involved.
With her friend, Myung-Hee (Go Min-Si) at her side Ja-yoon starts on a personal journey that is filled with twists and turns for her and the audience, and when the action beats hit, they are well-constructed and enjoyable, the special effects are great, and the cast is solid.
The story is well-constructed and Kim is incredibly watchable as Ja-yoon, and completely believable as we journey alongside her and discover the truth of her history and the story she finds herself in.
Park Hoon-jung wrote and directed this fun escapade and I love that he took his time building the characters and the story before kicking it into high gear, and I was there for it. The film works all the better because it takes its time with the set-up because it lets us get used to Ja-yoon’s everyday life, her parents, her friends, the issues she faces, and how the entry of these strange forces upend everything and set her off on a brutal journey.
Are there themes of nature versus nurture here? Is there a commentary on eugenics? I loved the explorations, and the reveals that happened and I love the set-up that we get for the second film, and there are rumours that it could be a trilogy… Now I’m worried about if things will get wrapped up or not in the second film, and how long of a wait I’ll have to wait for the third.
That being said, it’s a great ride. If you’re looking for something that feels a little familiar but told in a new way, check this one out.