My notes on Manyeo 2 Lo Go (The Witch: Part 2 – The Other One)
Park Hoon-jung’s The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion (2018) set up a complicated saga of kids with superpowers experimented on by shadowy mad scientists, offering a mash-up of Firestarter and the X-Men franchises (the chief scientist is even in a cool wheelchair), but with some amusing or offbeat Korean touches (the lead mutant outs herself accidentally by doing telekinesis on a TV talent show).
This follow-up, which comes five years after one-time viewers of the original will have grown fuzzy about details, follows a nameless new escapee from the mad lab – a teenager (Cynthia/Shin Sha) who wanders bloodied into an out of the way road and is snatched into the middle of a Korean gangster version of Shane by a passing van where a holdout landowner Kyung-hee (Park Eun-bee) is being abducted by the thug minions of bigwig uncle Yong Du (Jin Goo). After using superstrength, telekinesis and an eidetic memory to trash the villains and save the innocent, the girl – who was raised in isolation and knows nothing of spicy food or amusing youtube videos but is eager to learn – is taken in by Kyung-hoo and her bolshy younger brother Dael Gil (Yoo-Bin Sung), who is intrigued by her bizarre powers and also frankly needs a pal to chill out with and stargaze. Yong Du isn’t going to let the land-grab drop, and has an old grudge with the family to work out plus an apparently unlimited supply of doltish doomed minions … but even more trouble is on the way in the form of a clone-killing mercenary hulkette (Seo Eun-soo) and her Seth Efrican sidekick (Justin John Harvey) who are competing with ‘the Shanghai To-wos’, a quartet of sadistic but pin-up cute Chinese X-types with a variety of powers.
Though it’s a long film, it’s basically a siege at the farm as the regular bad guys are repulsed and more dangerous waves of super-powered kill crazies show up for impressive effects set-pieces and smart character bits. Everyone fights everyone else with enhanced skills and a lot of blood flows – even if some shattered limbs grow back. It’s bewildering – perhaps deliberately – since none of these factions are on the side of good (even Kyung-Hee seems to be a second generation mafia princess), though there is a range of evil from mildly antisocial to outright psychopathy. Cynthia has a less compelling arc than the Original One from the first film (Kim Dai-mi as Koo), but is still an interesting presence, especially when adapting to regular humanity between displays of amazing stuff. It has a middle-of-the-trilogy feel, with wheel-spinning and shoe-leather and folk getting into position for the finale – which, I assume, will bring the two Ones together – and some actual explanations. It even has a post-credits sequence to keep some apparently killed-off characters in play.
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