Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Cho EK
*This review may contain spoilers
Spiritwalker unfolds in a visually appealing way and keeps the tension alive as it seeks its narrative. The movie is about a man who loses his memory and wakes up in a new body every 12 hours, each time forced to discover who he is anew.
The movie begins with a man waking up from a car accident. Having no memory of himself, he is confused by his own reflection in the glass. The following day, something more shocking happens. He suddenly is moved to another place, in a different person’s body. On top of that, someone is chasing him down, searching for a person named Kang Yi An. Soon, the man instinctively senses that he himself is the man being targeted and sets out to find the truth behind all these paranormal phenomena.
The movie explores intriguing ideas with familiar tropes such as memory loss and body swaps we saw in many spy movies like the Bourne franchise and countless rom-coms. However, in this movie, when the main character’s body is changed, he not only wakes up with a different appearance, he wakes up in a different body that already has a social identity. Although there are some overly used tropes, the fresh take on them makes it an intriguing piece to watch.
The goal for the film is clear. What happened to Kang Yi An? Where is the guy that everyone is after? Who are the people chasing him? The process of finding an answer to such a question is not complicated. The movie puts the audience in the same position as the main character and leads them to follow the story from his point of view. Since the character has no memory of himself, the information he obtains along the way is insufficient and further confuses the situation. However, his desperate feelings are raw and alive, and the mystery surrounding him is thrilling enough for us to get immersed in the film.
The fast-paced story is what keeps us enthralled throughout the movie. The story persistently focuses on the protagonist chasing clues while dodging bullets. Every time he wakes up in a different body every 12 hours, he uses his intuitive senses to shake off the shadows and find information related to himself. In addition, the movie heightens the tension by placing two opponents against him. At one end, the national intelligence agent director Park and his subordinates create a threatening presence. At the other, Moon Jin Ah, who tried to find Kang for a different reason, brings out the strong emotional drama while motivating him to continue moving forward.
The movie lives up to its hype. It excels as a spy film with many intense action sequences, including fighting, shooting, and car chase scenes. In the beginning, Kang accidentally gets into a fight and lets his reflexes take over his mind to defend himself. A good example would be the fight scene in the cathedral and the car chase that runs through a steep residential area. As the movie goes on, Kang’s identity as a secret agent becomes more defined, and it peaks at the club scene in the second half of the film when the epic shooting scene begins.
Yoon Kye Sang, who reunited with the production team of The Outlaws, shows great performances, proving his excellent reputation as an actor. The actor nailed his part in the movie, thoroughly exploring the character’s confused state of mind while pulling off multiple extreme stunts. Alongside the star, Park Yong Woo plays agent Park, who gradually descends into madness, and Lim Ji Yeon takes on the role of Moon Jin Ah, a woman with unyielding willpower. Plus, Park Ji Hwan, who plays the homeless person, does a great job of lightening up the mood throughout the film.
However, in the second half, the mystery surrounding Kang is suddenly resolved at once, and the tension falls slack. It would have been better if the plot had been more thoroughly planned out from the beginning. The fact that the whole conspiracy was the work of a corrupt bureaucrat was a little disappointing and the fact that the film couldn’t break away from the overused gangster trope was a clear letdown. Plus to say the least, some of the characters were incredibly cliche and almost ruined the overall atmosphere of the film.
Nevertheless, as director Yoon Jae Geun said, “I wanted to make a fun movie to watch. I didn’t want to create a boring or confusing one.” Spiritwalker is a good popcorn movie. Interesting materials, a clear storyline, and a variety of action scenes provide basic satisfaction to the audience.
Verdict: No wonder it’s getting a Hollywood remake. (6/10).
Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies