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  • Press Release| July 25, 2014 [The Hollywood News] Review: The Divine Move

    The Divine Move Review

    Cho Beom Gu

    Cast: Jung Woo Sung, Ahn Kil Kang, Ahn Sung Kee, Choi Jin Hyeok, Kim In Kwon, Lee Beom Su, Lee Si Young

    Certificate: R

    Running Time: 118 minutes.

    Synopsis: A professional Go player is framed for his brother’s murder and, upon his release, seeks revenge against those responsible in the seedy underworld of Go, where the greatest wager is your life.

    Go is the extremely popular tactical game which is legendary in Asian countries. We’re talking world championships and televised matches kind of legendary, and with such a following in South Korea, it only makes sense to make a hard hitting thriller centred around gambling, murder, revenge, martial arts, and the game itself.

    The plot moves very quickly indeed with a game in which Tae Seok’s (Jung) brother gambles his life in a high stakes game of Go. Tae Seok is soon framed for his brother’s murder and just as quickly we speed forward to Tae Seok’s release. Having learned to fight in prison, he sets about assembling a team of legendary Go players in order to do battle against all those that had a part in his brother’s death. What’s so interesting about the plot is that is mixes elements of martial arts, fantasy, and heist movies. The team is made up of a great cast of characters including the comic relief, a blind master, and a one armed master. The latter two characters homaging the Japanese and Chinese characters of Zatoichi and The One Armed Swordsman. Such propulsion means that the film has a fresher edge than many revenge themed thrillers.

    Most shocking of all though is the extreme violence in a film that you may assume is based around a board game. The idea is that the game itself represents brains and the fights that ensue are the brawn. When cheating occurs, everything declines into well choreographed fight sequences not just as a loud and attention grabbing moment, but also a sensible and visual representation of the climax to such intense games.

    THE DIVINE MOVE takes itself very seriously, and some may even say too seriously. Murder is entwined with the playing of the game, and the film even goes so far as to suggest that children are kidnapped at a young age and forced to play the game. The violence is relentless, with stabbings, throat slittings, and vicious beatings portrayed graphically. Fortunately, it never feels so serious that it’s silly, and the film completely sells the audience on this being a life or death game. It’s clear that metaphors and aesthetics are just as important as plot, especially when one game takes place in a freezer where the temperature gradually decreases.

    The seriousness may put some off, as will the film’s assumption that you understand the game. I’d suggest brushing up on the basic rules (it’s a very complex game) before watching, as many of the moves and the idea of laying bait and trapping opponents plays into the character interactions as well. I appreciated the film not explaining itself too much though, as other films such as CASINO ROYALE, do seem to slow down and stutter when having to explain the rules of certain games.

    Interestingly enough, the film never really explores the idea of revenge or morals. Many revenge films warn against the obsessive drive or question the main character in some way. Here, Tae Seok is pretty much our hero and that’s how it’s going to stay. The point is never raised that Tae Seok and his brother were cheating gamblers just like the villains, nor is Tae Seok portrayed as becoming the thing he hates the most. This is a pure adrenaline ride which wants to entertain you rather than make you question the events.

    If dark and tense action is your thing, then THE DIVINE MOVE is certainly a film worth checking out. At a time when western action thrillers must skirt around a PG13 rating in the US, it’s great to see a seriously silly brutal film that is both enjoyable and grim.

    4 Stars (4 / 5) THE DIVINE MOVE is in select US cinemas from 25th July

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