“The Divine Move 2: The Wrathful” is flamboyant, preposterous and exaggerated, taking viewers on a wild ride.
Directed by Lee Khan and starring Kwon Sang-woo, the sequel to the “The Divine Move” (2014) — about high-stakes gambling via the game of Go — has an obvious premise and plot as well as one-dimensional characters. But it manages to provide fun and action.
The film starts by tracing the footsteps of a boy who was abandoned by everything in the world. He stumbles across a man named Heo Il-do (Kim Sung-kyun), who trains him to be an ingenious Go player to be used in scams in high-stakes gambling. But a scam gone wrong costs Heo’s life to the infamous gambler “Busan Weed” (Heo Sung-tae), and he is left alone.
Having grown up to be a masterful Go player with a vengeful heart — who later becomes known as “Gwi-soo” portrayed by Kwon — he hunts down those who have wronged him, including the nation’s best professional Go player, whose actions led to the death of his sister, the only one whom he truly loved.
At first glance, the premise of high-stakes gambling reminds one of “Tazza: The High Rollers” (2006), a drama about the precarious lives of sharpers. But unlike “Tazza,” this film does not have a variety of charming characters, an interesting plot filled with twists and turns and memorable lines.
“The Divine Move 2” is not a particularly well-made film. Gwi-soo — which literally means move of a ghost — played by Kwon is neither deep nor memorable. The same goes for the side characters.
However, the film manages to keep suspense with fast-paced editing and impressive imagery that floats on-screen. It knows that the characters lack memorable lines, so it keeps the dialogue and monologue to the minimum. It is rare to see a protagonist as silent as Gwi-soo. In fact, I don’t think he uttered 10 lines since reaching adulthood.
Instead, he is constantly on the move, seeking out opponents, playing Go, fighting, and always keeping the movie on the move. This helps hide the weak plot. In short, what the film lacks in writing, it makes up for in style.
Despite Go being the main subject, the game is hardly the focus of the movie. The characters play Go all the time, but the film glosses over all the specifics, and the game is merely a tool that Gwi-soo uses in his quest for vengeance. This is very different from “Tazza,” where the skills, tactics and mind games used in the game of hwatu (a type of card game) were critical to the film.
“The Divine Move 2” plays out more like “The Man from Nowhere” (2010), a simple, straightforward film plastered with blood and action. Or comic book-based film “Blade” (1998), as this movie is also basically a superhero film, albeit with superhuman Go-playing abilities.
The obvious shortcoming of “Divine Move 2” is that the protagonist lacked presence, unlike those in the aforementioned films. Kwon looked the part and had some great actions, but he wasn’t really on-par with Won Bin’s performance in “The Man from Nowhere.”
One-dimensional characters, comic-bookish exaggeration, numerous plot holes and no real twist — yet the film still manages to be quite fun with adrenaline-pumping action and excitement. It’s not a masterpiece, but it manages to create an intriguing, messed-up world.
Review by Yoon Min-sik (email@example.com)