Spiritwalker (유체이탈자; 遺體離脫者; Yucheitalja) {Korean Film Festival} – Film Review

Written and directed by Yoon Jae-geun, Spiritwalker (유체이탈자: 遺體離脫者: Yucheitalja) is a mystery-action fantasy thriller starring Yoon Kye-sang who plays an amnesiac man that wakes up in a different body every 12 hours. Admittedly, it was the synopsis that drew me to Spiritwalker, but was the viewing worth it?

I love a body swapping story. There’s just something so exciting and interesting about the idea of being able to live in someone else’s shoes for a moment. It’s something that we’ve all been secretly curious about and its thanks to the art of film that we get to witness what it would be like.

Spiritwalker manages to succeed with this concept, switching every 12 hours between body to body. Although the bodies change, we mostly see the face of Yoon Kye-sang and are only reminded that he has actually changed hosts from his reflection via mirrors and windows. While this is clever, I feel that there was a missed opportunity that could have utilised the ‘bodies’ that were being possessed. The actors of these bodies could have been displayed adapting to the spirit’s mannerisms more than the film briefly shows, which would have lifted the film to a whole new level.

Spiritwalker is entertaining and impresses with Yoon Kye-sang’s excellent on-screen chemistry with fellow cast member Park Ji-hwan as Haengryeo. The fight choreography is also great, but this is where the positives end.

There are more holes this plot than there are in Swiss cheese. I still do not know who half of the characters were, nor do I know who they worked for after leaving the cinema and pondering about Spiritwalker 24 hours later. I also don’t know what the end game was for the antagonists, and the more I think about it, the more I believe they were causing chaos and trouble for the sake of it, rather than for any real purpose.

The explanation for the body jumping was also very weak and not plausible either, which frustrated me the most, even in a fantasy perspective. Many of the characters also feel extremely one-dimensional, lacking chemistry with one-another and personality. I believe this is due to the very little work that the cast are given to work with. Admittedly, Park Ji-hwan shines in this film, but I believe this is due to his acting talents and the character being purposefully written to be different more than anything else.

I also did enjoy Yoon Kye-sang‘s performance, however, even despite the themes of the film, I feel we only get to see one side of his character, when we could have been exposed to more of his personality had the film taken the time to let audiences get to know him better, and relate to him more. Granted, his character has amnesia and doesn’t exactly know who he is, learning what happened to him along the way. But having amnesia doesn’t mean that you have no personality!

Spiritwalker is an entertaining action flick with supernatural elements and origins that still don’t make sense once the film is over. If you are more the type of person that desires a thorough and seamless plot, you may find Spiritwalker a little unsatisfying. If you can forget about the ‘why’ and ‘how’, can forgive the poor explanations given, and can focus on enjoying the journey and fight sequences, then you’ll be in for a great time. These moments are by far the best parts of the film.

Spiritwalker had its Australian premiere, and screened in Melbourne as part of the 2022 Korean Film Festival in Australia thanks to Korean Cultural Centre Australia.
The film festival’s Melbourne season is on now at ACMI until Monday the 5th of September.
For more information, the festival program, and ticketing, visit:
https://koffia.com.au
https://www.koreanculture.org.au
https://www.acmi.net.au/whats-on/korean-film-festival-in-australia-koffia-2022

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