Review: ‘The Childe,’ starring Kim Seon-ho, Kang Tae-ju, Kim Kang-woo and Go Ara

July 3, 2023

by Carla Hay

Kang Tae-ju (facing camera) and Kim Seon-ho in “The Childe” (Photo courtesy of Well Go USA)

“The Childe”

Directed by Park Hoon-jung

Korean with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in the Philippines and South Korea, the action film “The Childe” features a predominantly Asian cast of characters (with some white people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A 24-year-old underground fighter in the Philippines travels to South Korea to get money from his estranged father to help pay for the medical bills of the fighter’s ailing mother, but the fighter gets more than he bargained for when he finds out that people are trying to kill him.

Culture Audience: “The Childe” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching neo-noir action films.

Kim Kang-woo (center) in “The Childe” (Photo courtesy of Well Go USA)

“The Childe” is an intriguing action film with plot twists that will keep viewers riveted. The principal cast members give solid performances. There are also frank depictions of the prejudices experienced by half-Korean, half-Filipino people in South Korea. These bi-ethnic people are called Kopinos, which is sometimes used as a derogatory term, depending who’s saying it and the context.

Written and directed by Park Hoon-jung, “The Childe” is an often-violent story about greed, ambition, and family relationships. The movie’s protagonist is 24-year-old Marco Han (played by Kang Tae-ju), who lives in the Philippines and makes illegal money as an underground boxer. Marco is desperate for cash because he’s the only one who can pay the medical bills of his ailing mother (played by Caroline Magbojos), who raised Marco as a single parent. Her medical situation is urgent because she needs a life-changing operation.

Marco’s biological father, who was never in Marco’s life, is a wealthy South Korean businessman who has some medical issues of his own. Because of heart problems, he is comatose and currently on a ventilator in a hospital in South Korea. Marco’s father has not kept in touch with Marco’s mother. It’s mentioned that Marco’s father kept his distance because he was ashamed of having an illegitimate child who’s half-Filipino.

Marco’s father, who is currently a widower, has two other children, who were both raised in this wealthy family: Adult son Director Han (played by Kang-woo Kim), who is in his 40s, is the heir apparent to the family fortune, which includes the Hokyung Foundation. His sister Han Ga-young (played by Jeong Ra-el) is in her late teens. Director Han knows about Marco. In a scene where Director Han is talking to their comatose father in the hospital, Director Han calls Marco a “mutt” because of Marco’s half-Filipino/half-South Korean heritage.

Back in the Philippines, Marco is enticed by a shady criminal to rob a warehouse. When Marco arrives at the warehouse, he finds out too late that it’s all a setup for an ambush. He’s physically attacked by about 10 thugs and runs away into a street, where he is almost hit by a car driven by a mysterious woman who’s about the same age as Marco. Viewers later find out that her name is Yoon-ju (played by Go Ara), who knows more than she initially tells Marco.

When Yoon-ju and Marco first meet, she’s very apologetic for almost hitting him with her car. When she sees his injuries, she insists on taking him to a hospital. The thugs that were chasing Marco back off and leave when they see that Marco is being helped by a potential witness. Yoon-ju makes the mistake of asking Marco if he’s a Kopino. It’s a question that offends Marco, and Yoon-ju makes an apology for it.

After Marco leaves the hospital, another mysterious stranger comes into his life. He’s only identiified in the movie as Nobleman (played by Kim Seon-ho), and he is a frequently smirking assassin. Nobleman tells Marco that he was sent by Marco’s father to bring Marco to South Korea. At first Marco is suspicious, because he’s been estranged from his father for Marco’s entire life, so Marco wonders why he is being summoned by his father at this point in time. But then, Marco decides he can use this visit to South Korea to ask his father for money to pay for the operation that Marco’s mother needs.

The next thing that Marco knows, he’s being whisked on a private plane to South Korea. But what about those thugs that attacked him? Why did that happen? Marco soon finds out that he’s also under attack in Korea. There are several scenes in the movie where he is chased by men who obviously want to kill him. It should come as no surprise who’s behind these attacks, but the motivation for these attempted murders is meant to be a surprise, which is revealed in the last third of the movie.

Nobleman and Marco develop an unusual like/dislike rapport, where the lines are blurred on whose side Nobleman is really on. The offbeat and sometimes sarcastic banter that Nobleman and Marco have with each other is the darkly comedic part of the movie. Kim and Kang have great performance chemistry with each other. Between the action scenes, Marco is trying to find out exactly who Nobleman is, just like how viewers might be wondering the same thing.

A few of the action sequences are unrealistic in how certain people should end up with broken or fractured bones but don’t. However, the stunts mostly look believable and don’t over-rely on visual effects. The mystery behind Marco’s invitation to South Korea eventually reveals a truth that is not as obvious as it first appears to be. “The Childe” isn’t a perfect action movie, but it offers enough thrills and suspense to satisfy any fan of the genre.

Well Go USA released “The Childe” in select U.S. cinemas on June 30, 2023. The movie was released in South Korea on June 21, 2023.

Review: ‘The Witch 2: The Other One,’ starring Shin Si-ah, Park Eun-bin, Jin Goo, Seo Eun-soo and Sung Yoo-bin

September 4, 2022

by Carla Hay

Shin Si-ah in “The Witch 2: The Other One” (Photo courtesy of Well Go USA)

“The Witch 2: The Other One”

Directed by Park Hoon-jung

Korean with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in South Korea and briefly in Shanghai, China, the sci-fi action film “The Witch 2: The Other One” features a predominantly Asian cast of characters (with one white South African) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A mysterious teenager is hunted by various people while she is being protected by a woman, her brother and their cohorts with their own agenda.

Culture Audience: “The Witch 2: The Other One” will appeal mainly to people who are fans of the 2018 film “The Witch: Subversion” and sci-fi action movies that place more importance on violent chases than in creating interesting stories.

Seo Eun-soo and Justin John Harvey in “The Witch 2: The Other One” (Photo courtesy of Well Go USA)

People don’t have to see 2018’s “The Witch: Subversion” before watching 2022’s “The Witch 2: The Other One,” because this sci-fi action sequel is so incoherent, it won’t make a difference. It’s just an idiotic, violent chase movie with no suspense. “The Witch 2: The Other One” is not a horror movie, as the title suggests, and is not scary at all. The only real horror that viewers might experience is finding out that this bloated movie is too long (137 minutes), considering how little entertainment value it has to offer.

Written and directed by Park Hoon-jung, “The Witch 2: The Other One” (which takes place in unnamed cities in South Korea) is yet another sci-fi movie about an individual who is being hunted by sinister forces that want to use the hunted individual in scientific experiments. In these types of predictable stories, the individual is one-of-a-kind or very rare. And the hunt to find this individual usually involves secretive government operations and/or a gang of criminals.

That’s the basic plot of “The Witch 2: The Other One,” which has a teenager who is just named Girl (played by Shin Si-ah) as the target of this hunt. The movie opens with Girl (who looks like she’s about 15 or 16 years old) on a school bus filled with 36 people, according to a TV news report shown later in the movie. She and the other students are from a school called Sanwol Fashion.

The bus is carjacked by about five men, who fill the bus with tear gas. About five to eight other men wearing hazmat suits then arrive and enter the bus. The next thing viewers see is Girl waking up in a scientific lab, where a TV news report says that the bus rolled off of a cliff, and everyone in the bus died. Everyone, that is, except for Girl.

At the lab, Girl sees a pregnant woman and asks her about the pregnancy. The woman replies, “It’s a girl. She will have a sister and become a twin. And those twins will have even more siblings.” In other words, Girl is being kept in a lab that is producing clones under a secret program called The Witch program. This isn’t spoiler information because the only real spoiler information is revealing where Girl came from, her true identity, and what happens to her at the end of the movie.

People who know about “The Witch: Subversion” know that there’s an evil scientist named Dr. Baek (played by Jo Min-su), who is in charge of this cloning. At the end of “The Witch Subversion” (spoiler alert) Dr. Baek is killed. But she has an identical twin, who’s also named Dr. Baek (also played by Jo Min-su) and who is the chief villain in “The Witch 2: The Other One.”

“The Witch 2: The Other One” so badly edited, the next time that viewers see Girl, it’s during a snowy winter, and she has woken up and sees her body has sustained bloody injuries. Girl doesn’t know or doesn’t remember how these injuries happened. She’s in a science lab in Shanghai, China, where several people have been massacred.

Meanwhile, Dr. Baek, who is in South Korea and now in a wheelchair, is having a conversation a young colleague named Jang (played by Lee Jong-Suk), who tells her that their secret cloning building Ark Main in Shanghai has been totally exposed. Jang adds, “Those fuckers busted the Shanghai lab and evaporated it … The Girl is unaccounted for … She walked out on her own … We’re fucked.” Viewers later find out that Girl has been given the name Ark 1 Datum Point at this Ark Main lab.

And the next thing you know, Girl is kidnapped again. This time, it’s when she’s walking all alone in a wooded area when she’s abducted by five men and one woman in a van. The woman, whose name is Kyung-hee (played by Park Eun-bin), is the fearless and tough leader of this group.

Kyung-hee’s full agenda is later revealed in the movie. But for now, all Girl knows is that Kyung-hee is protecting Girl from the people who want to send Girl back to the Ark Main lab. Some other people become involved during this chase movie that becomes very repetitive and tedious. Kyung-hee’s younger brother Dae-gil (played by Sung Yoo-bin) eventually comes into the picture in a pivotal role. There’s also a crime boss named Yong-doo (played by Jin Goo), who is an enemy of Kyung-hee and Dae-gil.

A female official named Jo-hyeon (played by Seo Eun-soo) has been tasked with finding Girl. Jo-hyeon’s right-hand man is an arrogant and dimwitted white South African (played by Justin John Harvey) who doesn’t have a name in the movie. He often argues with Jo-hyeon about strategy decisions.

Gun shootouts, hand-to-hand-combat, and explosions ensue. “The Witch 2: The Other One” is a just a noisy mess that ultimately has no originality whatsoever. All of the characters are barely two-dimensional, with the cast members giving unremarkable performances. If anyone has the patience to sit through this entire garbage dump of a movie, there’s an end credits scene with a “surprise” that basically announces that “The Witch 2: The Other One” is expected to have a sequel. You’ve been warned.

Well Go USA released “The Witch 2: The Other One” in select U.S. cinemas on June 17, 2022. The movie was released in South Korea on June 15, 2022. “The Witch 2: The Other One” is set for release on Blu-ray and DVD on November 8, 2022.

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