The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion review: Prepare to witness some of the best fight-work in recent cinema years in this South Korean offering.
The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion, tells the story of Ja-yoon, a young girl whom escapes from a shady facility run by a sinister organisation. Suffering from amnesia, she’s found by a kindly couple of cattle farmers whom raise her. Ten years later, Ja-yoon enters a TV talent contest, ‘Birth of a Star’, where her combination of singing and telekinesis draw attention. She then once again finds herself back on the organisation’s hit list.
After an explosive opener, The Witch eases back down to a gentle pace. In fact, it’s so gentle and slow, that it’s easy to forget those opening moments. The excitement is stripped away and you feel very much like you watching a coming-of-age drama as Ja-yoon doesn’t really fit in with the world around her. It’s not until the final third of the film that events pick up again. And pick up they do. Suddenly the film is vibrant and energised once more. Most films have the problem wherein they start strong, but end with a whimper, but The Witch has the opposite issue. It meanders around for far too much of it’s two-hour run-time, before packing a mighty climatic punch.
One of the things that makes the ending so good is the action. Suddenly we have people running up walls, flying through the air and throwing knives at one another through use of telekinesis. The sequences are edited together at a break-neck pace, and the frenetic energy gets the adrenaline pumping. These fight sequences are some of the best I’ve seen in recent years, were the film to have featured more of these sequences, The Witch could have been something truly special. However, it’s saggy start drags it to down to just so-so.
Given that the title includes the words ‘part one’, there are almost certainly further films planned. With the set-up (hopefully) fully in place now, a second film could dive right into the action and be one truly crazy cinema-ride.
The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion review by Kat Hughes, March 2019.
The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion screens at Frightfest Glasgow.