• Manyeo / The Witch: Part 1 - The Subversion (2018) - Gloomy coming-of-age drama that evolves into a gripping science-fiction action-thriller - 9/10 (18/06/20)

    Manyeo / The Witch: Part One - The Subversion (2018)

    The Witch: Part 1 - The Subversion is the first part of a trilogy about a female teenager with supernatural capacities. This first film introduces her as she escapes a secret laboratory at the age of eight, runs through the forest and collapses next to a nearby farm. The childless couple who lives there takes care of her. The protagonist Ja-yoon grows up to become a very intelligent and gifted teenager who is still rather shy and isolated. Her best friend Myung-hee encourages her to participate in a talent show where Ja-yoon sings and performs magic. As the show is broadcast on national television, Ja-yoon becomes a star but also starts attracting shady characters. She is stalked by a boy of her age who is the leader of a group of criminal teenagers and claims to know her and asks her to remember what happened in the past. She is also tracked down by a a group of armed security agents who harass her downtown and at her secluded family mansion. Ja-yoon must confront the demons of her past to protect her foster parents and her best friend and to find out who she really is and what her destiny might be.

    This excellent science-fiction movie for teenager and young adults convinces on numerous levels. The story is intriguing and comes around with a few twists that also lead to a volatile atmosphere. The characters are attaching, intriguing and mysterious. The locations are diversified and fitting. The special effects are intense and memorable. The film starts as a coming-of-age drama that becomes a science-fiction thriller with spectacular action scenes. The camera work is calm and precise, the lighting techniques are crafted with care and the soundtrack blends in perfectly to enhance the atmosphere.

    If you like contemporary science-fiction films with intriguing characters, unpredictable plot and stunning special effects, you can't get around watching The Witch Part 1 - The Subversion. This excellent start of the franchise raises the bar for its two sequels that are yet to be released. Expert director Park Hoon-jung of New World, The Tiger and V.I.P. fame delivers his best film yet. Lead actress Kim Da-mi is one of the most skilled new actresses I have come across in quite a while and I certainly hope to watch more movies with her in the future. If you have only discovered Korean cinema thanks to Parasite winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, you have a lot of things to catch up and might as well start here.

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