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Geochilmaru: The Showdown (KOREA 2005)

Director : Kim Jin-sung

Cast : Kim Dae-won, Kim Jin-myung, Kwon Min-ki, Seong Hong-il

Synopsis
A martial arts website hosts discussions on different aspects of fighting styles and techniques. Through the website a mysterious and legendary fighter called Geochilmaru invites eight martial arts masters to meet him for a competition. No-one has ever met Geochilmaru or even seen him before. The group drive up into a secluded mountain together where they are told that only one of them will face Geochilmaru and they must decide between them who this one person will be. They all agree that the best way to decide is to fight each other. The winner of each fight will takes the loser’s necklace and only the person who holds all of the eight necklaces will finally get to meet the mysterious host of the competition…

Review
by Martin Cleary

The central premise of Geochilmaru is about as simple as a martial arts film can get. Eight martial artists, each practising a different fighting style, face off against each other in order to meet an unknown figure. That’s it. Each of the fighters is a master in a different style, so we have fights between Taekwondo, Hapkido, Kung-fu, Boxing, Judo, Karate, Muay Tai and Wushu. So basically it’s a tournament movie – if you’re not a fan of them then stay clear. But then, if you are a fan of them you should still approach with caution.

The first thing that becomes shockingly obvious is that the film is produced on a very low budget – this is evident in the occasionally poor camera-work and repetitive soundtrack. On the plus side, the lack of money seems to have meant that the filmmakers pretty much stick to the basics and keep the film very straightforward – when it sticks to the main story it moves quite swiftly and is not bad. The main distraction to the (thin) narrative is a sub-plot involving a policeman which is supposed to be funny – it’s not – and which adds very little to the main plot. You can’t quite help suspecting that it’s only included to bump up the relatively short running time.

The main focus of a tournament film like this is, of course, the fights. So, are they any good? Well, the answer to that is an unhelpful ‘yes and no’. The martial artists themselves range from quite accomplished looking to the quite poor. For those that are half decent there is one big problem in that they are not filmed or edited particularly well. There’s enough here to push the film along, but there’s not even one ‘great’ fight scene in the film – it’s at best very average, and on occasion pretty shabby. One of the more positive points of the fights is that they are not particularly stylised – they look closer to real fight styles than many HK action scenes, as they mainly consist of straightforward kicking and punching with very little in the way of flourishes. As a change from some of the more fancy (and intricately choreographed) fight scenes, Geochilmaru gives us some ‘brawly’ style fighting. Excuse the pun, but it’s all abit hit and miss. The performances from the cast of the film are (like the plot) fairly flimsy, although as most of the duration of the last two-thirds of the film is spent fighting this doesn’t prove to be too much of a problem. This isn’t Shakespeare after all.

There’s not a lot else to say about Geochilmaru. While it’s a completely forgettable film, it’s not dislikable for its eighty-five minutes duration. In its attempts to make a profound comment on martial arts (through narration and its conclusion), it’s pretty lame. Although it’s not great and never rises above its low budget, Geochilmaru might be worth a watch for those with low expectations and some time to kill. Otherwise avoid.

Rating
Plot : 1/5
Acting : 2/5
Entertainment : 2/5
Overall : 2/5

Buy this movie at YesAsia – Geochilmaru: The Showdown

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