The Divine Move (2014)
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Audience Reviews for The Divine Move
The drama and action within the game is tense and well-put. The Divine Move is a sleek revenge story wrapped up in gory-drenched thrills and symbolism. 4.5/5
As much as some South Korean films would be in my list of favorite films of all time, and I've said this before, a lot of their cinema that is available to us on Netflix plays out very similarly. Either it's a rom-com with a melodramatic climax, ultra-violent revenge films or a period film. And, again, that's coming from someone who would rate some of those ultra-violent revenge films among his favorite ever. Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of creativity in South Korean cinema, like a Snowpiercer, The Host, Save The Green Planet (you should see all three of those films immediately, if you haven't), among others. And then there's the more character-driven films like Poetry, Secret Sunshine and Mother. I think I mentioned in one of my reviews for one of these revenge films, Man from Tomorrow, I believe, that South Korea is the land of a thousand revenge thrillers. That's how many I've actually seen that I've lost count. But I digress this, honestly, does try to bring a bit of a different twist to the old and tired genre by basing most of its drama around a board game called Go. It's actually a fairly interesting little twist as, while it doesn't entirely do so, it changes the dynamics of the drama/action. Maybe it doesn't revolutionize the genre, but it does add enough of its own little tweaks to make it interesting to watch. Of course, much like myself and many others I'm sure, if you have no idea how to play Go, or at least have a basic understanding, then a lot of this will not make a lick of sense to you. And I think that's where the flaw in the plan lies. I'm not saying that the film won't be interesting or anything, I just think that they don't do a great job at educating people, who may have not known how to play Go before, into making the game scenes all the more effective. They do make it effective in the sense that there's usually some action following these scenes where they're playing, but not effective as far as making watching these people play this game interesting. Maybe it's a cultural thing really. Perhaps Go is to South Korea what poker is to Americans. To where even someone who doesn't care about Go at least has SOME basic knowledge of it. This film was made for Korean eyes after all. I don't have a problem with all the violence, in fact I've grown accustomed to it, it's part of these films. But, by focusing so much on the more violent aspects of it, you sort of forget what the core of the film is supposed to be. And that is the lead character's search to avenge his brother's death at the hands of those who scammed him out of his money after a game of Go. It just loses sight of what is 'important', so to speak. Woo-sung Jung, however, in my opinion, does a very good movie at holding together what the film's script does not. While I don't think his character has a lot of emotional depth past wanting to avenge his brother, I think Woo-sung is a talented enough actor to, at the very least, get some life out of this character. And I do think he manages to do so. The rest of the cast is good fairly good, the 'good' guys are likable and the villains are detestable. It's all fairly black and white like that. The ending itself is a little bit too perfect to the point you're questioning whether or not all is right with the world and whether it's the lead's deliriousness leading him to imagine this ending or what. Really, though, the story just doesn't connect with me. It just doesn't feel like there's a reason for why I'm seeing all this violence on display. Say what you will about Kill Bill, but that film never let me forget why The Bride was doing what she was doing and every ultra-violent scene was another step on her search for the man, and his assassins, who left her for dead and took her daughter. I never lost sight of that fact. Then again Kill Bill is one of the classics and this is not. They also introduce hint at this character called the Ghost who, apparently, is one of the best Go plays on earth and he played with against two of the characters for a long period of time, separately of course. They play up this fact and they never reveal who this guy actually is. There are certainly hints, but it's never outright stated who it actually is. I don't have a problem with that but since it doesn't actually lead to anything in the film, then it just ends up feeling like a waste of my time even bringing it up. If the plan is to do a sequel, which that may be why it was done here, then just do it in the actual sequel. Instead of bringing it up here. The lead suggests that it might be the old man he met in prison, leader of a gang or something, who trained him in fighting. But if that was the case, then what's the fucking point of, during the flashbacks to the Ghost, not showing his face. It seems pointless to me really. This isn't a bad film honestly, and it does do some stuff to stand out from the pack of violent South Korean revenge flicks. I just think the story is poorly developed so you don't really care about the characters and they're hoping the violence will distract you from that. It's still an average film, still better than, say Death Wish 179. I wouldn't recommend it, but some will probably find more to enjoy from this than I did.
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