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The Divine Move (Blu-ray Review)

The Divine MoveA professional GO player Tae-seok loses a high-stakes game to an infamous underground gambler KILLER and ends up framed for the murder of his own brother and locked up in prison. He vows revenge and trains ferociously. After serving his seven-year sentence, he gets in touch with his brother’s former associates and together, they begin formulating a plan to get back at KILLER and his men. Tae-seok slowly penetrates KILLER s inner circle and his gambling joint, and eliminates his men one by one. But KILLER discovers Tae-seok’s true identity and engages him in one final game that will seal the fates of the two men involved.

 

The Divine Move

Divine Move

 

 

Film  

The Divine Move is centered on the game of Baduk subtitled and translated to GO for this release. I don’t know what the rules are but the best I can describe it as would be like a more complicated version of Backgammon. Tae-seok (Jung Woo-sung) has lost a game of GO to someone that goes by the name of “Killer.” He’s an enforcer of sorts that is brutally violent and unsympathetic to everything around him. Killer dispatches Tae-sok’s brother and frames him for the murder.

Inside prison Tae-seok begins the long journey towards recovery as he begins to befriend some of the criminals and some of the guards. He is trained to fight by the criminals already in there and is given access to better food and beer by the warden of the prison in exchange for GO tutoring. Both relationships are reciprocal. Tae-seok helps the imprisoned boss and develops fighting abilities, and then is given access by the warden in exchange for tips on being a better GO player. Everyone wins!

Once on the outside Tae-seok begins the process of developing a GO players network with everyone having a special ability while plotting his revenge against Killer. The Divine Move was something quite unexpected. I recognized Jung Woo-sung from The Good, The Bad, and The Weird (he played The Good), so I figured that he would be our main protagonist. The reason it’s unexpected is that Tae-seok, when first introduced, is a complete spaz and square. It’s only until later that he’s literally forged into a “warrior” of sorts and then that’s when the fun really begins.

GO is a puzzle to me but the characters in the film are addicted to it. It’s even shown that homeless kids are being used as tutors and cheats to out maneuver players out of their money. GO is one big money making racket for all those involved in criminal dealings. Killer is an expert player but he cheats. When someone calls him out on his methods Killer executes them brutally. Tae-seok is more analytical since he started out as a “brains” type of guy before graduating to the “brawn” part.

Structure and stylistically, The Divine Move reminded me of the original Oldboy and I Saw the Devil. No, it doesn’t have any plot points similar to those films at all, so don’t worry about that. The Divine Move has carefully choreographed violence that takes place in very tight and enclosed spaces. I would also say that folks should not think that this is a straight up martial arts film, because it’s not. It’s got thriller, drama, with martial elements embedded into the final product. It’s a very tense film throughout and it will keep you glued to your seat. The game of GO is a tough one to crack but reading the expressions on the players faces is all you really need to understand what’s going on.

I looked up the director Jo Beom-gu and was surprised to see that he had directed a film called Quick, which was a lot of fun. It came out a few years ago but it had more comedic elements than The Divine Move. The Divine Move is a more serious film. As you can see I loved the film and hope that people won’t get turned off by the lackluster artwork for the Blu-ray. It’s a highly recommended film by yours truly. Seek it out!

 

The Divine Move

 

Video 

Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: The Divine Move looks divine for the most part. It’s got gritty sheen going over it and the lighting is very bold and dynamic that lends itself well to the high definition format. Detail is intact but brightness levels fluctuate, so read the “black levels” section below for more info on that.

Depth: The film goes for a more gritty-polished look in parts and that’s my favorite part of it. It’s greatly stylized but doesn’t make it all about itself. It does suck you into its world, though.

Black Levels: Black levels seemed to be blown out in parts. There are a few scenes that take place at night and the widescreen bars look darker than the darkness in the scenes – almost grey. This is not good and tends to happen in quite a few Asian releases. It didn’t pull me out of the film but I could not un-see it.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is all over the place. We go from natural light to diffused lighting, low light, and even neon light in some scenes. It’s a fantastic aesthetic laid out here.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looks healthy enough until they start getting brutally sliced up and pummeled to death.

Noise/Artifacts: The film looked relatively clean and I did not spot any instances of noise or artifacts. It’s a stylized film, so expect grain throughout. It’s all part of the show.

 

The Divine Move

Audio 

Audio Format(s): Korean Dolby Digital 5.1, Korean Dolby Digital 2.0, English (dubbed) Dolby Digital 5.1, English (dubbed) Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: At first glance one would think that a paltry 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack wouldn’t keep up with a film like The Divine Move but I’m here to say that the Korean 5.1 soundtrack will pummel you into a blissful submission. It’s a very dynamic and detailed soundtrack and it captures every subtle nuance for the game and of the brutal fights and executions. I was floored.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE subwoofer channel is active at all times and really lends itself well to the brutal hits and the hits of the stone son the game table. Boom indeed!

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels are extremely active and compliment the camerawork, as well. There will be times where the camera zooms in like an airplane from way back to the front and you can you can here it coming from the rear channels and landing right in front of you through the front sound stage. It’s an outstanding mix.

Dialogue Reproduction: I watched the Korean version, with English subtitles, and I may not know the intricacies of the game but I did listen to everyone that was talking and dialogue levels were on point. I have zero complaints in that department.

 

 

The Divine Move

 

Extras

The Blu-ray for The Divine Move is light on the extras. All we have is a short featurette, with interviews from the cast/crew and a theatrical trailer.

  • Making of The Divine Move 
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

The Divine Move

Summary 

The Divine Move on Blu-ray blew me away. I was not looking forward to it but 5 minutes into the film and I was captivated and it was relentless. The video and audio specifications are above average to near reference in quality but the lack of any substantial special features bring the grade down a bit. The Divine Move is highly recommended!

 

The Divine Move is released on Blu-ray & DVD March 17, 2015

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The Divine Move

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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