Fantasia 2019: THE DIVINE FURY

Faith-affirming religious horror meets martial arts action? YES, PLEASE.

The Divine Fury, distributed domestically by Well Go USA and recently seen at Fantasia International Film Festival, will have a limited theatrical run starting August 16th. If you’re lucky enough to be near one of the major cities where it’s playing, I urge you to check it out. If not, you can pre-order the Blu-ray.

The Divine Fury is flat-out one of the best and most satisfying films of the year, distinctly South Korean but deftly utilizing the recombinant DNA of modern action and horror cinema, with a liberal drizzle of that Korean special sauce (violence and melodrama).

After a childhood tragedy, Yong-hoo (Park Seo-joon) blames God for the death of his father. As a young man, he finds success as a top MMA fighter, but happiness eludes him as never makes peace with his past.

Yong-hoo is tormented by his demons, first figuratively, then literally, as the forces of darkness haunt his dreams and take residence around him. Soon he is struck by stigmata (Christlike wounds in his hands), and his doctors are unable to treat his affliction which continues to bleed profusely. With nowhere else to turn, he eventually finds his way to Father Ahn (Ahn Sung-ki), an exorcist and priest.

As the pair form an unlikely bond, they find that Yong-hoo’s stigmata has gifted him with powerful demon-repelling capabilities despite his disdain for the Creator (which comes in handy for some exorcisms), forcing him to confront his belief and acknowledge the evidence of God that he now wields in the palm of his hand.

The general proliferation of demonic behavior that the pair are experiencing and responding to is the work of a satanic cult, a clandestine organization in the business of sacrificially murdering victims as offerings to the Devil. And sort of like Ghostbusters, it’s all pointing to something huge and terrible on the horizon, of big Twinkie proportions.

This all leads up to a huge confrontation where our hero raids the demon cult in their mirrory, neon-lit nightclub and the secret subterranean lair that it conceals. Bear in mind, this guy is an MMA fighter armed with God-powered fists. Even though the film’s tone is generally pretty serious, they’re not above a giant slugfest with our hero literally punching the hell out of army of bad guys and their leader, who, thanks to his pact with Lucifer, packs some powers of his own.

The Divine Fury feels like it was made precisely for me, a Korean-American Christian who loves martial arts, horror films, and posters featuring religious iconography and hellborn bone shivs. I don’t know which insane studio execs okayed this particular Venn diagram of population: me, but God bless them. This is so ridiculously my jam. It’s the primary character arc from Signs, by way of Deliver Us From Evil, with dashes of John Wick and Constantine, not to mention the influence of all those great Korean violent “man versus mob” masterpieces like The Man From Nowhere. It’s absolutely phenomenal, and if it wasn’t for a certain Marvel movie culminating a decade’s worth of interconnected storylines in glorious fashion, it would easily be my favorite film of the year.

The Divine Fury is a tremendous pulp oddity, similar in many respects to other movies that came before (and which surely influenced it), but also very much doing its own thing. It perfectly strikes the delicate balance of being grounded and spiritually reverent, yet also an immensely entertaining blast of spooky scares and potent action. Highest recommendation.

Pre-order it at Amazon:
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A/V Out.

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