the review site with a difference since 1999
Reviews Interviews Articles Apps About

Genius Products presents

The Restless (2006)

“We shut the gates to Midheaven to block the demons from entering. But somehow you must’ve slipped in.”- So-Hwa (Kim Tae-hee)

Stars: Jung Woo-Sung, Kim Tae-Hee
Other Stars: Hur Joon-Ho, So E-Hyun, Park Sang-Wook
Director: Cho Dong-Oh

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations, violence)
Run Time: 01h:44m:34s
Release Date: 2008-06-17
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

The smash hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon started a renaissance of sorts, albeit unintentionally. The film’s surprising success opened the floodgates for a wave of new, martial arts-themed movies that were far from the pictures released in the early days of Asian cinema. While somewhat late to the party, the nation of South Korea has added this genre to their recent cinematic boon, releasing numerous martial arts titles in the last few years. The latest of these, The Restless, is a visually arresting piece that excels, at least visually, despite a heavy reliance on CGI. Genius’ DVD brings the visual flair to life in a great video presentation, which, along with excellent audio, makes this disc a great way to discover this poorly-treated (in regards to release strategy and marketing) film.

Yi Gwak (Jung Woo-Sung) is the last warrior among a group called the Royal Demon Slayers. When he saves a village girl from some monsters, her people welcome Yi Gwak, giving him food and drink. Unfortunately, there’s a bounty on his head and these villagers are more concerned about bettering their financial situation then they are with their new hero’s well-being. He escapes their clutches, passes out, and awakens in a place known as Midheaven, where souls must wait for 49 days before being reincarnated. Unlike the rest of the souls, Yi Gwak isn’t dead yet. Enter the White Reapers, who, along with another group of demons, are led by the lovely So-Hwa (Kim Tae-hee), who looks just like Yon-hwa, Yi Gwak’s wife. Still, despite this coincidence, Yi Gwak realizes just how dangerous these White Reapers really are.

Director Cho Dong-Oh has crafted a beautiful-looking martial arts film that, unfortunately, falls into the same trap that most similar films not named Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers do. The heavy concentration on the overall look of the film and the impressive martial arts sequences means the story suffers. There are so many characters and plot lines that are never fully developed, fleshed-out, or explained, that it’s far too easy to become confused and follow along with the story.

The actors don’t do a ton to help, but it soon becomes clear that they’re mainly along for either/or their martial arts skills or as eye candy to go along with the wonderful cinematography. Woo-Sung does make for a fine lead, though, embodying the complex Yi Gwak in as natural a manner as possible, remaining as close to a “normal” hero under the circumstances. Tae-hee is just an amazing woman to look at, but she also creates an imposing figure of evil, at least on her character’s surface. The bit players are among some of the better martial arts experts I’ve seen in recent years, and work nicely with the film’s stars during the fight scenes.

The film is well worth seeing, though, if only for the breathtaking look provided by cinematographer Kim Young-Ho. There is quite a bit of CGI in play, but this is far from being of the cheap variety and more in line with what we’ve seen recently out of Hollywood. None of the images ever look “fake,” which is a common occurrence among lesser CGI-reliant movies. Young-Ho wields a palette of lush blues and gorgeous pastels to craft a world of wonder that often makes us forget about the shoddy screenplay. So, unless you really want to try and wrack your brain and comprehend all of The Restless, I suggest leaving your brain at the door and simply sitting down and taking in this wonderful-looking martial arts vehicle.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, this transfer does a wonderful job of allowing Kim Young-Ho’s cinematography to shine the way he intended. The colors are handled very nicely, working perfectly with the sharp, detailed images, and blemish-free source material.

Image Transfer Grade: A

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Korean audio is also very impressive, utilizing the surrounds throughout the film’s duration. This dynamic mix also features deep, aggressive bass, and crystal clear dialogue that is perfectly blended into the track.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: For extras, we get Making of The Restless, a 52-minute piece that gives us an in-depth look at the film’s shoot, focusing heavily on the wire-stunt work, and including cast and crew interviews.

There’s also a pair of featurettes, with Reincarnation in 49 Days lasting 12 minutes and focusing on the story origins via an interview with the film’s director.

There’s also a 12-minute look at the production design, with the focus being on the special effects and various sets.

Extras Grade: B-

Final Comments

If you can’t get enough of high-flying, action-packed martial arts movies, then The Restless is definitely for you. Although nearly-crippled by an overly confusing story, director Cho Dong-Oh has given us a visual treat that’s full of excitement. Genius’ DVD features excellent audio and video, along with a lengthy making-of piece that’s worth a look.

Chuck Aliaga 2008-08-08