Copyright© 2006 CJ Entertainment Inc/ ©2010 Metrodome Distribution
Demon Empire aka The Restless
This is a film which was released back in 2006 in Korea Under the title of ''The Restless'' or in Korean ''Joongchun'' or as some spell it as Joong Cheon. The Korean title translates as ''Mid-heaven'' which is probably a more fitting title to this Fantasy film about Lost Love and Demon Slayers.
The film is being touted by some as by the makers of The Warriors Way ( the 2010 Action film starring Korean actor Jang Don -Gun) Well I can't find any connection. This probably is no bad thing as Warriors Way did not do too well.
So what we have is a story about a young man called Yi Gwak who after losing his loved one, Ywon Hwa, is accused of bringing demons to the local villages. She is burned as a witch.
Yi Gwak knows this was not the case, as he was responsible. Depressed and not liking life he is enlisted by the Royal Demon Slayers who go around vanquishing Demons. In his new family, he is content and promoted to the leader and the holder of a special Demon slaying sword.
But when betrayal lurks within the Empire's walls the head man ( Ban Chu) decides to take the law into his own hands, all against the wishes of Yi Gwak who advises against it. The Group attack and in the process get slain, Yi Gwak arrives too late to save his friends.
Now some time passes and Yi Gwak is a Vagabond who vanquishes demons as and when he can, one day he helps a village and they end up poisoning him as they recognize him as the last of the Demon Slayers, of which there is a bounty for.
He escapes but falls into a stoop-er, he awakens in a strange land surrounded by people all dressed the same in a place of tranquillity. But when he is discovered to be a live human the surrounding people are scared, you see Yi Gwak has landed in Midheaven. A place where people's spirits wait to be reincarnated., but the surprise for Yi Gwak is that the overseer of Mid-heaven is a young girl called So-Hwa who bears more than a striking resemblance to Yon-Hwa.
Now all this tranquillity will be disturbed when a band of spirits attack the waiting spirits and start killing them. They want a special stone that So-Hwa has in her possession, so they may return and rule the human world.
Yi Gwak saves So -Hwa as he is mesmerized by her ( of course she has no memories of him as she is a celestial spirit).
On top of this, the evil spirits that attacked are led by his Old Demon Slayer buddies and now Yi Gwak will fight a battle to save Mid Heaven and So-Hwa while trying to deal with his old friends who hope he will join them.
Demon Empire is a lavish film with amazing-looking sets and lots of special effects, for it may have had slightly too many special effects incorporated within the fight sequences than I would have liked. If you look at the recent films like Detective D or Reign of Assassins which had a good balance between real martial arts and special effects.
It's probably more acceptable here as we are in a Celestial place. Now don't go expecting a constant flow of action scenes as the film is as much a love story as it is an action film.
Jeong Woo Seong is brilliant as Yi-Gwak as he experiences the wonders of Mid-Heaven and tries to get So-Hwa to remember her past from her Human life.
There are many great scenes of battle with some effects that would not look out of place in an XMEN film, but combined with lush forests and beautiful backdrops, you might be mistaken and think you are watching House of the Flying Daggers or Hero.
There's also some light-hearted humour, like when one of the overseers creates a street of gambling vendors and food stalls, so the waiting spirits can remember some things from being human, this shocks So-Hwa who on a journey gets lost when she comes across this back alley in Mid-Heaven's celestial gardens.
The film comes in about 140mins and is not too long. Well-paced scenes without too much lingering on unimportant scenes work well for the film.
I do feel the English title for the region 2 release is a little misleading and the cover too. I think the title of Mid-Heaven or Heavens Gate would have been better.
But saying this I really enjoyed this film and if you liked ''The Myth'' with Jackie Chan then your sure to love this one. With a great cast, great soundtrack, and some fine acting all around ''Demon Empire '' shows love has no boundaries and neither do the lengths people will go to have power over others.
Original Review Date 18-04-2011
Updated November 2021
Director : Jo Dong-ho
Written By: Jo Dong-ho / Choi Hee-dae
Distributed by: CJ Entertainment
Country: South Korea
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Both Trailers from the Korean release as ''The Restless''
and as ''Demon Empire '' in the UK from Epic Asia.