Outside of a few inspired moments there is very little that is divine about Kim Joo-hwan’s action/horror hybrid The Divine Fury. It is a film that takes the long road to reaching a destination that is clearly visible from the first act.
Clocking in at a little over two hours, though it feels even longer, the film focuses on a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter whose crisis of faith has been long overdue for a reckoning. Since his police officer father died, leaving him all alone as his mother died during childbirth, Yong-hu (Park Seo-joon) has turned his back on religion. Believing that God failed to hear his prays, the young man’s anger has allowed dark spirits to corrupt his heart.
Unbeknownst to Yong-hu, a higher power refuses to give up on his soul so easily. Though demons have temporarily infiltrated his heart, the fighter receives the same puncture on his hand that Christ received when crucified. Giving him a layer of protection and power that he does not understand. Seeking answers for what is going on within him, Yong-hu’s journey leads him to Father Ahn (Ahn Sung-ki), a priest from the Vatican who specializes in exorcisms.
Before long the two men are teaming up to battle a mysterious force that is preying on the innocent. As the duo inch closer to locating the whereabouts of the dangerous demon known as “Dark Bishop”, an entity who uses the immortal seeking Ji-sin (Woo Do-hwan) as a vessel to do his bidding, Yong-hu must confront his unresolved anger before it engulfs him.
While Kim’s film is visually appealing, as the director incorporates some inventive camerawork, the bloated plot is its ultimate undoing. The convoluted narrative never focuses on one aspect long enough to make the viewer care about the plight of the characters. As the film bounces from one exorcism to the next, the logic of the world the film creates gets murkier.
By time the film throws in the evil occult known as “The Legion” one has completely lost interest in the unfolding events. A point that is solidified when Yong-hu finds himself in a bland neon drenched John Wick style fight with The Legion. While the idea of an MMA fighter in clergy clothing, a metaphorical cloak of armor, may seem badass on paper, it lacks energy in practice.
In many ways this sums up the film overall. The Divine Fury is filled with ideas and themes it has no real Intention of exploring. Not even divine intervention can save this film.