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August 8, 2021

The Divine Fury (2019) Movie Review

I actually didn’t plan to write up a review on this film. I wanted to spend the evening watching a Korean horror movie and just enjoy it. WELL…it’s the next day and I’m still thinking about how much I liked the film, despite its few flaws, and wanted to share, okay? STOP ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS!


Since this film just came out a couple of years ago, I will do my best to remain spoiler free. I don’t promise shit, but I’ll try.

The Divine Fury is, at its core, a movie about faith. It’s dressed up with MMA fighting and bare chested healthy young men (*ROWR*), kick ass fight scenes, cool special effects, and a kicking soundtrack. But if you take all that away, it’s about faith. And I think I can even stretch that to say it doesn’t necessarily have to be about faith in one God. It could apply to faith in anything or anyone.

Let me break it down a bit more.

Yong-hu has grown up (movie starts off with him around 10 years old perhaps?) without a mom. She died during childbirth. He and his dad, a local police officer, live out their days as happily as they can. Right off the bat, the issue of faith in God and the power of prayer is established in Yong-hu. He doesn’t understand that even though his dad prayed really hard, Yong-hu’s mom still died. And after his father is severely injured in a hit and run, the local priest tells Yong-hu that if he prays really hard, God will save his dad.

Well, what do you suppose happens?

From that moment on, Yong-hu has no faith, doesn’t believe in God, and every time he sees a cross or some kind of Christian religious symbolism, he flies into a rage. 20 years later that helps with his MMA career, but his soul? Not so much. By holding on to that hatred and anger, he allows demons to surround him at all times. The voice in his head, that he thinks is just his own, is the manipulation demons uses against him.

After suffering from nightmares, Yong-hu develops a stigmata in his right palm. Not sure what to do, his driver suggests a legit shaman – the driver’s niece. She tells Yong-hu he needs to go find a priest at a church not far from his home and he’ll help.

Yong-hu finds the priest during a hella exorcism and ends up helping the older priest on his missions. During all of these, we learn of the Black Bishop, someone who uses religious rights to summon demons. This BB is in town and he’s wreaking havoc. They need to stop him PDQ.

Evil never looked so sexy...

In his journey helping Father Ahn exorcise demons, Yong-hu realizes that his father’s ring, and the energy his father passed along before he crossed over to Heaven, gave Yong-hu some powerful blood that can dispel demons. Handy that he’s got stigmata, amirite? His blood and a little douse of Holy Water sets those demons aflame and back to Hell. So Yong-hu ends up battling the Black Bishop, saving everyone in town from the powers of evil.


Now, full disclosure for anyone new, I have a bias toward South Korean television and movies. I’m addicted to K-dramas, to put it bluntly, and Korea does a great job with horror films. So I probably liked this movie more than a ‘normal’ person would. There are flaws here, for sure, but for the most part I could overlook them because I enjoyed so many other aspects of the film.

For the bad: this movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes. No movie needs to be that long, seriously. Not just for the short attention span folks of my generation (I blame MTV) but also just the comfort level. I can’t imagine watching this in a theater. Even from my cozy couch, my back got stiff and I fidgeted a lot to remain comfortable. We didn’t need four to five examples of how the bad guy gets what he wants from the main demon. That was established with two. Didn’t need three to four exorcisms with Father Ahn to understand how taxing and difficult they are. Not exactly sure how the awkward fan interactions with Yong-hu progressed the story in any way (spoiler: they didn’t).

Bitch, I look good.

The CGI was a mixed bag. I always appreciate practical effects when they can be utilized, but I do understand some stuff just has to be done by computer. Unfortunately, some of it was not the highest quality and came off as cartoonish. But some was really cool and certainly enhanced the story. As for the story, most of it is well written and developed. Though there are quite a few trite and cliché moments throughout the film, you quickly forget about them as the action picks up or the character development progresses.

Mostly those were my issues. The story, cinematography, soundtrack, fight choreography, editing, sound, acting, and directing certainly made up for any flaws. Many of these can be subjective (any kind of artistic direction or music choice, for sure) but there’s no doubt as to the acting talent. Park Seo-jun (Yong-hu) shows us a young man consumed with anger toward God who then evolves and can finally let go of that blackness to help those in need. Ahn Sung-ki (Father Ahn) has been acting since he was 5-years old. Though Father Ahn is fighting demons throughout the film, the character is so gentle and patient with Yong-hu, despite the younger man’s vitriol aimed at him.

But I think my favorite actor was Woo Do-hwan (Ji-Sin, aka The Black Bishop). He plays this attractive, smooth, unassuming club owner. His subversive nature, though, is in service of a terrible snake demon and the way he manipulates people to do what he wants is rather unnerving. He has no qualms about removing ANY obstacle and doing what’s necessary to achieve his evil goals. And guess what? He didn’t need to kill the dog to show us. Now, what he does with the dog…I won’t tell you but (and maybe this makes me a monster) it was awesome.

Also his transformation at the end looked pretty fucking tits. From what I could tell, it was practical latex/foam or something to that effect. Looked completely real and natural, you know, as far as a snake demon would look. Even as he pulled off his wet cloak, it looked like a snake shedding its skin. So fucking cool.

So if you enjoy a good versus evil story, redemption films, or demons in general (and who doesn’t??), and you don’t mind reading subtitles (please don’t watch dubbed foreign films if you don’t have to), check out The Divine Fury. You won’t be disappointed.

3.5 Hatchets (out of 5)

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