Jung Woo-Sung

The Divine Move (2014)

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The Asian chess-like game of Go, or in this case, Baduk, gets deadly in this action thriller from director Jo Bum-Gu.

Tae-Seok is a young man whose skills in the game of baduk has led him to help his elder brother Woo-Seok, who’s in a jam. Woo-Seok has been challenged to take on “Player”, a gangster working for one of the most vicious crime lords in the area, Sal-Soo, also known as the Killer. When the ruse is discovered, Tae-Seok is brutally beaten and Woo-Seok is mercilessly killed by the Killer, who frames Tae-Seok for the murder.

Imprisoned for seven years, Tae-Seok learns to fight with the help of an elder prisoner and his men. Perfecting his skills, he is offered to join the elder prisoner after he is released. Tae-Seok would love to take the offer, but at the moment, he has one thing on his mind: avenging his brother. To do so, he changes his look and goes after each of Killer’s men by challenging them to baduk and then getting his revenge, until he can get to the man himself in a game that will decide who lives and who dies.

A truly brutal film, director Jo Bum-Gu takes You Sung-Hyup’s script about a baduk player who uses his game and fight skills to seek revenge, is quite interesting. For those unfamiliar with baduk, or the game go, it is similar to chess that it involves strategy but involves the use of “territories”. The game plays a crucial factor in the film overall as the game ultimately leads to violence throughout the film.

Jung Woo-Sung truly makes an impact in the film as the revenge-seeking Tae-Seok, who goes from a bushy, bearded scared man to a clean cut revenge seeker in the film. It is apparent he only has one thing on his mind after getting brutalized, seeing his brother dead and then getting framed for that death. Seeing Tae-Seok train to fight is quite an interesting training montage seen that leads to the quest for revenge.

Some of the thugs in the film are incredibly vicious. Notably Choi Jin-Hyuk’s “Player” and the big boss himself, Lee Beom-Soo’s “Killer”. They are inexplicably mean-spirited and when things don’t go their way, they resort to violence and this leads to Tae-Seok using an “eye for an eye”. The character of “Tricks”, played by Kim In-Kwon provides some hysterical comic relief in the vein of Joe Pesci’s Leo Getz in the Lethal Weapon films as he is a talkative slapstick goofball. Ahn Sung-Ki does quite well as another sidekick, “The Lord”, an elder expert who joins Tae-Seok as well.

In charge of the action scenes is Seoul Action School’s Choi Bong-Rok. Choi has the cast use close quarter combat as well as some technical style fighting. However, the close quarter style brings a more brutal, realistic style of fighting that looks at times very heart-pounding and exciting. In an exciting scene, Tae-Seok actually competes in a game of baduk against an opponent inside of a room in near sub-zero temperatures that leads to an all out knife fight between the duo. The climactic finale is also quite exciting and shows Jung at the top of his game.

The Divine Move is a pretty good movie that shows Jung Woo-Sung in his one of his best performances. The concept of turning baduk into a potential “game of death” is quite interesting and the combat scenes are nicely done. A definite rental with strong optional purchase.

WFG RATING: B+

CJ Entertainment presents a Showbox/Mediaplex production. Director: Jo Bum-Gu. Producers: Park Man-Hee, Yu Jeong-Heon, and Hwang Geun-Ha. Writer: Yu Seong-Hyeop. Cinematography: Kim Dong-Young. Editing: Shin Min-Kyung.

Cast: Jung Woo-Sung, Lee Beom-Soo, Choi Jin-Hyuk, Kim Myung-Soo, Ahn Sung-Ki, Kim in-Kwon, Lee Si-Young, Ahn Gil-Kang, Lee Do-Kyung, Jung Hae-Kyun, Ahn Seo-Hyun.

 

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Reign of Assassins (2010)

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The legendary John Woo produced and co-directed this martial arts epic that meshes elements from a few Hollywood action films but done in the style of the wuxia pian.

It is long believed that whoever possesses the remains of the Indian monk Bodhidharma, responsible for the creation of martial arts, would be the ruler of the martial world. Countless opportunists seek to get their hands on the remains. One such group is the Dark Stone, a deadly assassin group led by the Wheel King. When an attack on Minister Zhang Haiduan results in the minister and his son Renfeng’s deaths, Dark Stone assassin Shi Yu, grabs the remains and disappears. With a reward on her head, after spending three months with a wise monk, Wisdom, she decides to leave the martial world and hide the remains, getting a new look in the process.

Years have passed and in the capital, a woman named Zeng Jing has arrived, renting a former doctor’s home for her own. There, she meets a courier named Jiang Ah-Sheng. Eventually the two marry but Zeng Jing’s dark secret is revealed when she stops a group of thugs from robbing the local bank. When the Wheel King discovers that Zeng Jing is actually Shi Yu, he sends his cohorts Lei Bin, the Magician, and Shi Yu’s replacement, Turquoise He, to confront Zeng. However, to everyone’s surprise, Zeng’s new husband also hides a secret that could change the course of the martial world forever.

With John Woo’s name on the film, that combined with Michelle Yeoh’s name mentioned, has a very high chance of attracting fans to this film. While many wuxia epics have quite standardized plots involving perhaps weapons and other relics as the source of power that everyone is after, or much like many films, someone dies or is hurt and a hero seeks revenge, this film, from writer-director Su Chao-Pin, meshes a few of the classic martial arts genres but in a surprising move, adds elements of Hollywood films as well. There are truly nods to the likes of a Woo film, Face/Off as well as shades of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and that alone proves to be a shocking element in terms of plot.

Michelle Yeoh is truly enjoyable as Zeng Jing, the former assassin who finally sees the light and just wants to live a normal life. However, when she is forced into a situation that she wasn’t expecting, she ends up being forced to face her former life. Korean star Jung Woo-Sung plays Jiang Ah-Sheng as a hapless courier who falls for Yeoh upon first sight and the two eventually do get married. However, we don’t see Jiang’s revelation until the end of the second act of the film. The other breakout of this film is safely said to go to Barbie Hsu, who plays Shi Yu’s replacement Turqoise, as the wuxia epic equivalent of a true femme fatale. She uses her looks to get her way but when confronted, has very deadly skills when fighting. Her character is truly one book you would never judge by the cover because she will literally kill you. Shawn Yue and Leon Dai give ample support as the remaining Dark Stone cohorts, who look to have normal lives but like Shi Yu, are also forced back to their past ways when summoned by the deadly Wheel King, played by Wang Xueqi in quite a performance.

Stephen Tung Wei served as the film’s action director, bringing some core elements of the wuxia pian, the sword fighting and wirework when necessary. Some of the chases and stunts bring to memory Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of course. However, the one scene that is very nicely done in terms of execution and drives the story is Jung Woo-Sung’s first fight sequence, in which he sharpens his sword, bringing the tension between himself, Shawn Yue, and Barbie Hsu to a high where Jung’s character reveals his dark secret. The final confrontation pits Yeoh against Wang Xueqi and is nicely done, and just when you think the predictable happens, well, it turns out to be not as predictable as one would think, yet it is nicely shot nevertheless.

Reign of Assassins is a great meshing of both Asian and Hollywood film elements, with some great performances by Michelle Yeoh, Jung Woo-Sung, and Barbie Hsu driving the film in their core roles. A nicely done wuxia epic that should definitely be checked out.

WFG RATING: A-

A Lion Rock Production in association with Beijing Galloping Horse Co. Ltd./Media Asia Films/Zhejiang Dongyang Dragon Entertainment Ventures Investment Co. Ltd./Gamania Digital Entertainment Co. Ltd./Lumiere Motion Picture Corp./Beijing Heguchuan TV and Film Co. Ltd. Director: Su Chao-Pin. Producers: John Woo and Terence Chang. Writer: Su Chao-Pin. Cinematography: Horace Wong. Editing: Cheung Ka-Fai.

Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Jung Woo-Sung, Wang Xueqi, Barbie Hsu, Shawn Yue, Leon Dai, Pau Hei-Ching, Li Zonghan, You Benchang, Kelly Lin, Guo Xiaodong.

 

TRAILER: Asura – The City of Madness

Chaos ensues in the U.S. trailer to Kim Sung-Soo‘s thriller Asura: The City of Madness, starring The Wailing‘s Kwak Do-Won and Hwang Jeong-Min alongside Jung Woo-Sung (Musa: The Warrior) and Joo Ji-Hoon.

Imagine a city where everything has gone to hell. The mayor is not only boldly corrupt and fearless, but an outright danger to anyone who gets in his path. Among the cronies who help him maintain power are not only fixers and gangsters, but also members of the police. The prosecutor’s office, which is determined to bring him down, tries first through the courts and then through less legal means to bring him to justice. But in their own way, the prosecutors are just as wicked and ruthless, and the higher up the chain of command you go, the worse they are. As tension and hatred grows, and friendships turn into rivalries, there is only one possible outcome. A storm of violence is coming to Annam City.

Detective Han (Jung), who for years has been secretly doing dirty work for the corrupt mayor Park Sungbae (Hwang), is now pressured by a ruthless prosecutor Kim Cha-in (Kwak) to cooperate in an investigation against the mayor. Feeling trapped, Han persuades his young partner Sunmo (Joo) to take over his work for the mayor, but things start to get tangled in unpredictable ways. As things are getting worse, only the most evil survives in this dog-eat-dog world.

The film comes to CGV Theaters in Los Angeles on October 7, 2016 followed by a nationwide release on October 14, 2016.