Star-studded South Korean fantasy action blockbuster Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds features great acting, occasional humour, and an interesting theme. But an erratic plot and below-par CGI keep it from true excellence.
After losing his life on the job, firefighter Ja-hong (Cha Tae-hyun of My Sassy Girl fame) is taken to purgatory by three afterlife guardians, Kang-lim (Ha Jung-woo), Hewonmak (Ju Ji-hoon), and Deok-choon (Kim Hyang-gi).
Once there, Ja-hong must go through seven trials (each associated with one of the deadly sins) before he can be reincarnated. While the journey goes smoothly at first, the untimely death of his younger brother Dong-wook (Su-hong) causes complications because Dong-wook still holds a grudge against the man who killed him.
Dong-wook’s vengeful spirit interrupts the trials and leads to some unexpected secrets about Ja-hong’s life. The resulting clashes make for some interesting, if sometimes disjointed, statements about fate, causality and responsibility.
The acting is a strong point of the film, with the charming and experienced cast successfully bringing out the unique strengths and weaknesses of their characters. Jung-woo and Su-hong shone especially brightly and make the experience enjoyable.
Though it takes a while for the film to start rolling (nothing much happens in the first third), the exploration of the themes of death, ulterior motives, and past regrets make it a worthwhile watch.
However, the mediocre special effects were unconvincing and camera movement for action scenes was more shaky than stylish. Another downside of the film were some unresolved plot points that begged for more explanation, but were seemingly just forgotten.
Given the high potential of the imaginative subject matter, the rough plot and unpolished script could have certainly done a better job than what was presented onscreen.
Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds is an ambitious and massive production, but perhaps a much tighter plot and more mind-blowing computer effects would have done more justice to complement the first-class acting and touching message.
Edited by Jamie Lam