The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: The Magician [Movie]

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This is one of those movies where it would’ve been really, really helpful if someone who’d seen it before me, had told me how best to enjoy this movie, before I watched it.

…Which is why I’m here to do precisely that, for you. Y’know, coz I’m just helpful that way. πŸ˜‰

The bottom line is basically this: if you try too hard to make sense of this story, you’re likely to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you just send the ol’ brain packing on a 2-hour vacation, lean back and roll with The Pretty (and boy, is Yoo Seung Ho pretty in this), you might actually enjoy this one.

Behold the Yoo Seung Ho Pretty

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS MOVIE

What I knew beforehand

I went into this movie pretty blind. The only things I knew about this movie before I dived in, were:

  • This is Yoo Seung Ho’s first project after completing his Military Service.
  • Go Ah Ra is starring opposite him.
  • They have a loveline.
  • He’s a magician in this. And he rocks the mane of glory.

…That’s about it, really.Β I’d heard some positive responses to the movie, so I was optimistic.

What it felt like

Honestly, it felt like someone Very Important And Powerful had given instructions to writer-nim and PD-nim along these lines:

  • This is Yoo Seung Ho’s comeback. Make him glorious to look at.
  • Scratch that; make everything beautiful to look at.
  • There has to be a romance. Make it feel epic. But don’t forget the cute.
  • There also has to be bad guys. Bad guys make everything more exciting. Make it about revenge. Or something.
  • Some blood is ok. A lot of blood is also ok.
  • Be sure to sprinkle it all with some adventure and magic. After all, this is titled The Magician.
  • I don’t care how you do it. Just do it.

…Which is probably how the movie ends up feeling like a hodgepodge mishmash of all of these elements.

To be fair to writer-nim and PD-nim in my imaginary scenario, they manage to check all the boxes above. Everything is beautiful to look at, and there is a main romance, and there are revengey bad guys and magic. The OTP chemistry is reasonably decent and there’s a fair bit of OTP cute. There’s even a Magical Revengey Bad Guy. How about that, for a creative combo?

The not-so-great bits

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a lot of cohesion at play among the various elements. And sometimes, there isn’t a lot of logic either. In trying to fit the various pieces together in my head in a way that made sense during my watch, I basically wasted brain cells and time, which could’ve been spent just admiring The Pretty.

Pacing is also a problem. Because it feels like Show can’t make up its mind on what’s more important – the romance, the tragic backstories, or the revenge – the available screen time is divided in a way that makes me feel like we get large chunks of everything, but no real focus on any one thing. If that makes sense. I literally got a little confused along the way, thinking that maybe the movie was a revenge melo instead of a romance, after all.

Stuff also happens at a mostly unhurried sort of pace, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se. But, becauseΒ it already feels like the story isn’t sure of its main focus, the unhurried pace feltΒ slow to me. I kept waiting for Show to focus properly instead, and that definitely messed with my ability to enjoy Show’s leisurely pace.

On top of it all, the way everything is knitted together feels rather random at points. Let’s just say that the narrative thread linking one scene to another was sometimes so obscure that I strongly suspected it wasn’t even there. Suspension of disbelief and the ability to quickly fill in narrative gaps, both required.

[SPOILER] Case in point, the scene where Bo Eum (Jo Yoon Hee in a very decent performance) dies in Hwan Hee’s arms (Yoo Seung Ho), which then cuts to Hwan Hee entering the performance arena for a final showdown with Magical Revengey Bad Guy Gwi Mol (Kwak Do Won). Given that Hwan Hee isn’t even supposed to know that Gwi Mol is the one who killed Bo Eum, I was more than a little puzzled that he knew to enter the arena for a showdown. [END SPOILER]

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

The ending, though happy, honestly made little sense to me. That leap – from Hwan Hee and Cheong Myung (Go Ah Ra) standing on the cliff ready to jump, to, time-skip later, a painting of them, alive and happy and doing magic – really felt rather weird.

Essentially, all movie long, we’re led to understand that Hwan Hee isn’t really able to do magic. All of his magic tricks boil down to sleight-of-hand and lots and lots of planning and stage trickery. To then imply that Hwan Hee really did do something magical, to take both him and Cheong Myung to Atlantis (apparently), well, that’s really out of the blue. (Well ok, maybe they didn’t go to Atlantis, but just jumped off the cliff and survived, but that’s also a little far-fetched, I think?)

Without any hints prior to Hwan Hee’s magical abilities, nor any explanation of how Hwan Hee and Cheong Myung survived, the ending feels conveniently, inexplicably happy.

Would I have preferred that they’d jumped off the cliff and died? Well, no. I definitely was rooting for a happy ending. But a little more explanation – or at least a hint of an explanation – would’ve been nice.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Clearly, my experience with this movie wasn’t exactly fantastic. I’d felt rather underwhelmed overall, but I really think that was because ofΒ my lens and expectations. I’d expected stuff to make sense, and I was trying to find the logic inΒ everything, when that really wasn’t the point of the movie.

But just because I didn’t have a good time with this movie doesn’t mean that you can’t.

Going in, just think of this as a fantasy sort of world where not everything makes sense, but everything is pretty to look at,Β and love is sometimes enough,Β to create all the magic that you need.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Not bad if you don’t think too hard. Show is stronger on atmosphere than substance, but Yoo Seung Ho is Very Pretty.

FINAL GRADE: B-

TRAILERS:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

15 thoughts on “Flash Review: The Magician [Movie]

  1. I was looking forward to this since it was Yoo Seung Ho’s first project after military service.
    I tried (and I mean really tried) very hard to like it but I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters. The theatrics was nice to watch but other than, nothing else hooked me and I got bored very quickly. FF’d plenty.
    All in, it really was very pretty to look at but that’s about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, I feel ya, SOSsy! I was really looking forward to this one too, it being YSH’s army comeback project. Which means I went into this really wanting to like it. Unfortunately, I was trying too hard to make sense of it all (and, isn’t that the way one usually watches a show, anyway? Usually they’re supposed to make sense! πŸ˜„ ) and so it sort of fell flat for me in many ways. I felt a lot like you felt, except I sat through the entire thing without using my FF button! πŸ˜„

      I think with the show not focusing clearly one any one thing, I had trouble getting on board with all of the things. I think if they’d focused on the romance more, for example, that I might’ve been able to feel more for the OTP. I don’t regret it enough to give this another 2 hours of my life while trying on a different lens, so I’m just putting it out there, that if anyone is planning to watch this, they should switch off their brains for 2 hours. πŸ˜„

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  2. I wish I had read your review before I spent two hours trying to make sense of it. But it was Very Pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know how you feel, joy! πŸ˜„ I wish someone had told me too, that I shouldn’t try to make sense of the thing! I dearly wish this could’ve been Pretty AND sensical, coz those two things shouldn’t be mutually exclusive!

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  3. Thanks for the heads up on the movie. I like these mystical kind of shows, but I do appreciate if it can be somewhat coherent. I first saw YSH in Arang and The Magistrate and thought he was delightful. That drama was mystical but it made sense and imo a solid drama for all the actors involved. Unfortunately, this will be 3 for 3 no gos for me with YSH post military service. I dropped the cat, will probably skip the movie, and while I know people love Remember (Son’s War), it’s not gonna happen for me due to the combo of melo and lawyers.

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    • I know what you mean about Remember.. Much as I have a soft spot for YSH, I don’t see myself sitting through the heavy weepy for him. πŸ˜› I don’t know if it helps, but I wouldn’t say The Magician is a mystical magical type of show, in the sense that most of the magic is stage tricks and sleight-of-hand. There is some real magic that makes an appearance, via the Revengey Bad Guy, but that’s not explained. He just is able to do real magic, whereas we’re led to believe that YSH’s character isn’t.

      Btw, I totally agree with you that Arang’s a great example of a mystical drama that actually makes sense. I loved that drama, and feel that it deserves more love than it actually gets. And YSH was delightful in it, even though he was in a supporting role. Such an adorably cheeky King of Heaven! ❀

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  4. Sigh. Of all comeback projects to choose from…Honestly, I liked Song Joong Ki pre-military for the pretty and the personality, but knew very little of his acting (heard great things about him in Innocent Man, but it seemed to melo for me). Post-military, he’s all acting AND pretty for me. Awesome comeback for Joong Ki in DotS.

    But pre-military, I loved Yoo Seung Ho way way more than I did pre-military Joong Ki. I’d watched several of his works. Loved his acting. Loved him in Warrior Baek Dong Soo (so much so that I thought he stole the whole show hands down), adored him and rooted for him in I Miss You despite hating the show, basically he was all pretty and acting skills for me. Then come post-military and I’ve honestly yet to find anything spectacular, or really anything I’d be interested to even take a look at. Now I’m just running on the love I love I had for him pre-military and hope he comes out with something awesome.

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    • You know what, Julianne.. I feel the exact same way about YSH’s army comeback! I loved him pre-MS, and would pretty much watch (or at least try to watch!) anything that he was in. I dropped I Miss You at around E14, but not before swooning over him good and proper, heh! And I agree that he was quite a scene-stealer in WBDS as well.

      Which is why I’ve been systematically checking out (almost) all of YSH’s post-MS projects. Sadly, I’ve not been particularly blown away by anything I’ve seen so far. I thought he was cute and endearing in Imaginary Cat, but I didn’t think the show itself was amazing. In fact, I thought his delivery in some scenes in Imaginary Cat was a little overdone. I wasn’t blown away by The Magician either, even though he’s very beautiful to look at in it. So yes, I’m with you in waiting for him to actually star in something awesome. *crosses fingers*

      On the other hand, I completely agree that Song Joong Ki’s blowing it out of the water with his army comeback! I am swooning over him in DotS in a way that I never thought I would. I mean, I LOVED him in SKKS (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it!), but DotS is a whole new level of delightful. ❀

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  5. Hi there πŸ™‚ I just found you on twitter btw I decided to follow you there since I’m there more often than on blogs. (I’m a private account just so that I don’t get random spam, but feel free to follow back if you want so we can chat about movies & dramas more) [btw I stumbled on this blog while looking for opinions for The Throne, and I was just SO GLAD that you said that it wasn’t bloody/violent because that’s usually what stops me from watching Korean movies! I’ll give it a go now, thanks to you]

    About this movie, I totally agree with you that there was just a lot of pretty, not too much substance. I really do feel like the plot just was not executed well and there was a major disconnect with the characters shown. The magic also did not make much sense, so he was doing pretty much circus tricks (fake magic) for the audiences but then he could actually do “real” magic as well? I was just so lost honestly. lol
    The main thing that I got from this was that 1. Yoo Seungho is BEAUTIFUL 2. Go Ara is also beautiful. That’s about it. I had high hopes for this since the premise, on paper, sounded lovely. 😦

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    • Hi there Storia! (Can I call you Storia?) It’s nice to meet you! I’m glad you found my review of The Throne helpful! Coz like I said in the review, I bailed right quick at the head-banging scene, it was just too much for me. I’m so glad my friend Nelly assured me the rest of the movie was not going to be as violent, coz otherwise, I would’ve missed an excellent movie. So pleased I could do the same for you! πŸ™‚

      HAHA at your conclusion about The Magician! Yes, it’s true that Yoo Seung Ho is beautiful, and Go Ara is beautiful, and the whole movie is beautiful. Nothing made a lot of sense, but at least it’s all very pretty. πŸ˜‚

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  6. Personally, I enjoyed the movie and understood 90% of it. Those 10% I didn’t get was why in the end those soldiers were after the princess. Clearly in that town where all the action happens, Kim Gap-Seo was the wealthiest man, so when he dies (killed by Gwi-Mol, the Chinese magician), his men think Ahn Dong-Whi killed him. So…of course, Kim Gap-Seo’s men go after Ahn Dong-Whi and his men to kill them, but dunno why in the midst of it all, they also have some issues with the princess….
    Someone wrote in the comments above how Hwan-Hee knew Gwi-mol murdered Bo-Eum. Well…it was kind of obvious. When Gwi-mol kills the convoy’s princess and he kidnaps her, he turns and smiles devilishly at someone. That someone was Hwan-hee. But Gwi-mol disappears in those woods (that’s how I imagined it) And then…where would Hwan-hee go and ask for help than to his friends and collaborators at the house where the stage was? And when he arrives, sadly Bo-Eum was dying.
    I believe the movie does have logic, but the translations were not very good, that’s why all the confusion. I managed though to see between the lines what was happening.
    I do agree the movie could have been better structured, giving more insight into the matter, but oh well….maybe they didn’t want to make it longer than 2 hours.
    As to the ending….I’m already used to Korean mentality. Koreans really don’t know or don’t want to make a happy ending. And if it is, it’s always strange, weird or confusing. This one was all 3.
    Clearly the writer wanted us to believe they were ok in a far away land, but…..it didn’t convince me. Somehow I expected this kind of weird ending, but it was way too weird even for my expectations.
    All in all, except for the ending, I really liked the movie. Yoo Seung-ho never fails. He cannot fail. He’s one of the best out there.
    If he were to play in a crappy movie, he’d still make the best out of it. He that good.
    I can answer to any other questions, to explain other things, if asked. Hope I was of help with what I wrote in this comment.

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    • Thanks for your effort to make things clearer for the rest of us, N Ema 😊 It does help me a little, but I personally still find this movie lacking in logic, and for me, I don’t think it was an issue with the subs, since I do understand enough Korean to not be completely dependent on subs. It’s just, the way events were knitted together felt very haphazard overall. I don’t know, maybe the movie is meant to feel avant garde and that’s why it’s put together this way. I do agree Yoo Seung Ho lifted the movie with his dedication to the role. 😊

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  7. You are right, I have to google what happens in the end. The plot is confusing too. I just guessed that they both landed to another country where people like Hwan Hee did not not mind his or other eye being blue. And yes both survived and alive with kid! Thank you for the review. I always read what you write.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed the review, Gingerbread!! πŸ™‚ I didn’t love how the ending was handled either, and it also didn’t make sense to me.. But as I like to tell myself for this movie in particular, better a happy ending than not, I guess! πŸ˜†

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      • Hello. Thanks for you email. You’ve no idea how delighted I am to get an acknowledgement. Keep it up. Have a blessed Sunday. I wish you well.Β GingerbreadΒ 

        Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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