Spiritwalker (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): A slick and efficient fantasy action flick

South Korean film “Spiritwalker” is a slick and efficient genre piece which handles its familiar genre elements much better than I thought when I came across its trailer in last month. Once it sets the rules around its utterly preposterous story promise, the movie briskly and entertainingly hops from one narrative point to another along with its confused hero, and you will gladly go along with that before it reaches to its last act where everything is conveniently explained for us as expected. That is a bit disappointing in my humble opinion, but the movie compensates for that with a number of gritty action scenes to excite us, and I felt fairly satisfied when I came out of the screening room along with other audiences a few hours ago.

At the beginning, the movie puts us right into a very baffling circumstance surrounding its hero. When he regains his consciousness right after a small car accident happened, he cannot remember who he is, but then he is baffled to find that he is in the body of someone else he does not know at all. After being taken to a nearby hospital later, he gathers a few bits of information about who this person is, but he only becomes more baffled when he subsequently goes to where this person is supposed to live.

And that is just the beginning of his very extraordinary circumstance. Every twelve hours, his consciousness is somehow transferred to another figure quite alien to him, and it surely takes some time for him to get accustomed to this weird situation before he eventually becomes determined to find out what is exactly happening to him right now – and where the hell his original body is at present.

Fortunately, it soon turns out that there is something common among those figures who happen to be occupied by our hero’s consciousness one after another along the story, and the movie accordingly provides us more clues on what is really going on around him. Our hero is actually an agent who has worked for some secret government agency, and he has recently been pursued by the agency for some hidden reason he still cannot remember much. It seems that one of his colleagues, who is also incidentally his lover, holds all the answers to his growing questions, but he must be careful because she is understandably quite watchful about whatever may happen to her. At one point, he cautiously approaches to her when no one is watching them, but, of course, she does not recognize him at all, and that accordingly leads to the first action scene in the film.

Meanwhile, the plot gets thickens with more figures to enter the picture. There are several agency officials quite willing to cover up whatever was caused by our hero, and there are a number of chilling moments of violence as their underlings do some nasty cover-up jobs as ordered by them. In addition, there is also a homeless guy who happened to encounter our hero during the opening scene, and the movie provides a few moments of humor as this dude later becomes an unlikely ally for our hero.

Except its outrageous story promise which surely belongs to the realm of fantasy, the movie is basically another typical spy action thriller flick about an amnesiac agent on the run, but the screenplay by director/writer Yoon Jae-geun, who previously made a feature debut with “Heartbeat” (2010), steadily engages us while accumulating more tension and intrigue around its story and characters. Around its middle point, you will easily guess what is really going on around its hero, but the movie keeps holding our attention as usual with some surprises for us, and, above all, it never overlooks what is being at stake for its increasingly desperate hero.

The movie also gives us a series of crackling physical action scenes as expected from its genre, and these well-made action scenes surely bring considerable intensity to the film. I must point out that our hero often looks as invincible as, say, Jason Bourne throughout the movie, but Yoon and his crew members make sure that these action scenes are presented with palpable physical impacts on the screen, and they thankfully do not resort to shaky camerawork and choppy editing here. When our hero goes into his full-throttle mode during its last act, the movie becomes less interesting with lots of bangs and crashes, but it still maintains its narrative momentum fairly well under Yoon’s competent direction, and it confidently goes all the way along with its hero before eventually arriving at the ending.

As the center of the film, Yoon Kye-sang diligently carries the film with some effective assistance from several other main cast members who respectively play a number of crucial supporting characters to be occupied by his character’s consciousness along the story. As the main opponent to our hero, Park Yong-woo constantly looks hostile and aggressive as demanded by his role, and Moon Jin-ah and Park Ji-hwan are also solid in their respective parts.

In conclusion, “Spiritwalker” is a nice genre product which does its job as well as intended, and I had a fairly good time on the whole. By the way, its copyright was already sold for the possible American remake version, and, thought I do know whether it will eventually come out, I sincerely hope that the American remake version will be as enjoyable as the original version at least.

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