Monday, April 11, 2022

Spiritwalker, on DVD

It is like Quantum Leap, but with non-stop fighting. Our protag’s consciousness jumps bodies every twelve hours, but thanks to his amnesia, he has no idea who he is or the identity of the people he inhabits. However, it turns out he is closely linked to all of them in screenwriter-director Yoon Jae-keun’s Spiritwalker, which releases tomorrow on DVD and BluRay.

Kang I-an (or “Ian” in the English subtitles) is having a very bad day. He doesn’t even remember he is Kang. That is something he will have to puzzle out on the fly. His only ally will be the nameless homeless who keeps crossing paths with Kang after each jump. Nevertheless, Kang keeps turning up just in time to save his former lover and colleague Moon Jin-A, even when it is very much out of character for the bodies he possesses.

There is a secret to all this that probably shouldn’t be revealed. Regardless, the important thing is the explanations work well enough, so viewers can just settle down and enjoy the wall-to-wall action. This is a total run-and-gun film, featuring fight choreography from Park Young-sik and Chung Seong-ho, who shared a SAG Award for the stunt work on a little project called
Squid Game. Yet, Yoon also pulls off some wildly cinematic transitional scenes for Kang’s jumps.

This is a terrific rollercoaster ride, very much in the spirit of Cho Sun-ho’s
A Day. A lot of casual streamers are just now discovering Korean film and TV, but they have been making some of the best high-concept thrillers for the last two or three decades. In addition to the fantastical twist, Moon’s honest and heartfelt Christian faith also helps distinguish Spiritwalker from the field. As a result, concepts like the soul and confession have real meaning in this film.

Regardless, Yoon keeps the film racing along like a runaway train. For the most part, we see Yoon Kye-sang portraying Kang, regardless of whose body he is currently using, except for gimmicky (but amusing) scenes of him looking into mirrors and the like, to see reflections that do not match his face. He certainly seems credible as an action figure, often more so than many of his hosts. A lot of colorful Korean character actors turn up that way, including Park Yong-woo, as a particularly unstable narc-turned-gangster.

Frankly, it is not always so clear how everyone is precisely related, but it is easy to deduce which side they line up on, based on where they shoot their guns. Yoon’s Macguffin is quite clever and the execution is super-slick. Very highly recommended for action fans,
Spiritwalker releases tomorrow (4/12) on DVD and BluRay.