Not to be outdone by neighbouring China, South Korea is stepping up its movie game with this sequel to the 2017 hit Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds.
Having not seen the first film I did feel at somewhat of a disadvantage going into AWTG. It’s an epically long film at nearly two and half hours and there are two main stories going on simultaneously with multiple strands occurring within those two main stories.
In short, it’s complicated (and it’s not you, it’s them), whilst at the same time being pretty obvious to guess who is who and what has gone on in the past, something which both strands are attempting to tell in their own way.
Some of the CGI is great, others not so much, it borrows heavily from films like The Matrix and Jurassic Park (yes really) whilst having its own voice too. Part court-room drama, part god, afterlife, hell-roaming journey, Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days is certainly different.
Three guardians, people who help you in the afterlife, are in trouble with the King of the afterlife. The ringleader of the three, Ha Jung-woo (“The Yellow Sea”, “The Chaser”), is determined to help his current deceased person get a fair trial, convinced as he is that his death was murder, not an accident.
Meanwhile, to appease the King mainly, his two accomplices, Ju Ji-Hoon (“Dark Figure Of Crime”, “The Spy Gone North”) and Kim Hyang-gi (“Thread Of Lies”, “Hero (TV)”), are sent to Earth to bring back an old man who is past his time but is being protected by a former guardian, Ma Dong-seok (“Champion“, “Train To Busan“).
Whilst on Earth, the two learn from Dong-seok who they were in their past life, whilst in the various hells (there’s a hell of murder, violence etc), Jung-woo begins his trial, attempting to convince the powers that be that his man was murdered. But who’s really on trial here? And will everyone forgive everyone at the end?
The, slightly longer than small, snippet is just the tip of the iceberg as this long and convoluted story begins to take shape over the course of the film.
Writer and director Kim Yong-hwa (“Take Off”, “Mr. Go”), has a tendency to move the camera around a lot, zipping from place-to-place, rotating around subjects, flying in and flying out regardless of what’s taking place on screen.
It gets frustrating after a while and only serves to add to the confusion of what exactly this film is meant to be. Is it action, for there are many fight scenes, or period drama, we go back to the various dynasty’s, or a drama in its own right, there’s a lot of seriousness at play here, mainly involving Dong-seok and the old man and his young nephew he’s been protecting all these years.
All of the actors do a great job, I wouldn’t say this is Dong-seok’s strongest role, but nothing draws complaints. And perhaps, just perhaps, seeing the first film would help immerse me into the world of Along With The Gods.
I get the feeling this sequel has gone the way of many other sequels before it…if you get what I mean, in that it’s tried to explain all the parts that weren’t explained in the first film, forgetting what made the first one so great (see: The Matrix trilogy). Something is compelling me to seek out the first one though as I feel it could be great.