Spoilers will knock you out.
How many times have you seen a horror movie about demonic possession where the priest gets knocked down and wished an actual fighting athlete would intervene? Well, prepare to get your wish granted. I don’t know why it took this long, but someone has finally subverted the exorcist genre by adding MMA fighting. The way this works is purely incidental, but this is one is a subversion that needs to be encouraged.
The Divine Fury is written and directed by Kim Joo-hwan. A young kid loses his father after he gets killed trying to stop a criminal. Leaving religion behind, that child is now Yong-hu (Park Seo-jun) a professional MMA fighter who keeps having dreams about his father. When his right hand’s palm starts to bleed and nobody can tell him why it, he seeks the help of a priest. Father Ahn (Ahn Sung-ki) is not your regular local preacher, but an exorcist ordained from the Vatican. It turns out Yong-hu is not only able to assist, he can also throw down with the forces of evil and his stigmata allows him to vanquish demons back to hell.
Now this is the way you end a great film festival. The movie drives its religious schtick a little too loud but the horror is done particularly well with above than average performances by all the possessed victims. Woo Do-Hwan plays a rather sinister villain as evil bishop Ji-Shin. I would’ve like a couple of extra challenges for Yong-hu before he gets to fight Ji-Shin. Yes, he does have to go against a few demon-possessed minions, but nothing of note. There’s usually one or two categories before the final boss. That being said, that’s just me nitpicking. There are other little tidbits I loved, like Father Ahn speaking Italian when conversing with the Vatican on the phone or speaking Latin when performing an exorcism. The movie is great for what it is, and although I could have done without the religious overtones and Christian fan service, it does deliver where it counts.
Strongly recommended with just a couple of reservations. The movie is rather preachy with a little too strong religious overtones at times. Once it gets down to business, the performances are on point. The fighting is solid and nasty and I wish they could have added a couple of more hard bouts before they got to the final confrontation. The horror fans will be pleased to find lots of scary bits throughout. I feel that MMA fans might be more satisfied with a little less conversation and a little more action.
That will do for now.
You’re spot on with your review — this was a perfect wrap up.
I’m not sure, though, about your criticism of the “religious overtones”. It’s an exorcism movie, with a very specific vein of Christianity it’s tapping into. Perhaps I didn’t feel it excessive because I went to a Catholic school for six years in the far off past. While I’d be interested to find out how “accurate” the depictions of various rites and chants are, they all seem utterly in place for a Catholo-religious supernatural thriller.
(On a side note, I see you closed the Comments section for “Swallow” before I could get my two cents in. But as a wise man I know likes to say, “no worries”.)
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