Korean action swordplay epics haven’t exactly reached the plateau as of yet. I’m aware I have reviewed quite a bit of them on the blog but this one is especially cool because it seeks to tell a significant event in Korean History. It pointed out 1448 as the new era of warfare, with the development of rudimentary missiles, hence, The Divine Weapon. As this whole story is based on 15th Century Korean history, not everything flows as well as it should.
This weapon can launch special arrows as well as a huge explosive arrow for about 3 km. The film does keep its focus about the story of the rocket itself; the film carefully shows its secrets and the risks in creating such as weapon. Despite the fact they are a smaller region, the Joseon dynasty is flourishing but they are being controlled by the Ming dynasty who demands increased tribute and even more soldiers to serve. Joseon’s top weapons designer, Ga-Song has developed plans for powerful weaponry that may change the balance of power. The film does have a fair amount of characterization, but it does suffer a little from the abundance of different characters. At times, the film gets a little difficult to follow and some scenes may encourage a small disconnection to the proceedings.
I rather enjoyed the fact that director Kim uses the minimal amount of CGI in the film and only uses it when absolutely necessary in the final scene. Although the film is dialogue heavy it really reminded me how Korea was 300 years ahead of Europe in developing warfare missiles. It isn’t the grand spectacle I could’ve wished for but it is highly entertaining. The film is a good example of how playing one’s aces well can pay off, despite any flaws a film may have. I would also urge the readers to read closely the language used. One can learn a lot from this, from vulgar language to royal language. The screenplay is kept moving at an even vigorous pace as to keep its viewers entertained that its 134 minute runtime went by quickly.
Korean history seems to be such a mystery to the rest of the world that there needs to be more clear explanation of it to foreign audiences to eliminate some of the lack of fluidity not apparent to Koreans and those of us with some measure of historical knowledge of the area. I, myself, am not a history buff so I can’t verify if there are a lot of historical inadequacies but for the most part it seemed legit. The Divine Weapon proved to be an enjoyable watch, as it contained everything needed for a successful blockbuster, combining historical intrigue, action, romance and even a touch of comedy to great effect. This is a real grounded epic film that I can recommend to my readers guilt free.