Anticipated Follow-Up ‘The Witch: Part 2’ Heads to Blu-Ray From Well Go USA
When The Witch: Subversion first came out, it shot to the top of a lot of movie enthusiast’s lists — especially for us action adrenaline junkies. I had heard of it through word of mouth rather than an advertising campaign mostly since, at least before Parasite, South Korean films (genre or otherwise) didn’t really get their place in the sun in the west. Since then a lot more films from the Asian continent have been seeing some impressive box office numbers in the U.S., South Korea being one of the top contributors of new & exciting films to premiere in the western hemisphere.
At the end of The Witch: Subversion’s U.S. theatrical run it had finished at around a $24.3 million USD profit, coming in just below Ant-Man and the Wasp on its second weekend in theaters. I like to think that all those who came out for it and became a fan of the film remember how Subversion shifted gracefully from its unusual framing device, pivoting towards the action with the main character keeping us on her level of disbelief. So when a sequel was announced, those who relished this emergent world of The Witch immediately started looking forward to seeing what the sequel would have in store. For reasons I’ll get into later on, the short answer is sadly more of the same from the first installment. It offers virtually the same things that Subversion did in 2018 but with a different, and arguably much larger, cast of characters. It still provides a fun ride but may not be exactly what was needed that seemed so novel the first time around.
Well Go USA provides another brilliantly clean and crisp picture for this brand new film, in an AVC-encoded 1080p presentation. At points the film’s color timing presents a greenish tint for some sequences, other times it reverts to a lighter dark bluish hue that will be most present in shots that contain lots of darkness, ambient blacks and shadows. The grading is such that everything is clearly visible in every point of focus the camera uses as its subject, and there was minimal digital noise that may have distracted from enjoyment of the movie. The Witch: Part 2. The Other One is presented in its original 2.39:1 digital aspect ratio.
As is tradition with many foreign releases from Well Go USA, The Other One comes with a choice of two different audio tracks per language track. Both the original Korean audio is present in both stereo and HTDMA 5.1 as well as a dubbed English track offering the same. Each mix is used to its fullest potential with excellent clarity, the movie’s rumbling bass providing a nice baseline to drive tension and excitement with dialogue cutting through loud moments with utmost clarity in both languages. It also comes recommended from this reviewer that viewers stick to the original Korean language track, although if the English dub is chosen there are separate subtitles based solely on that translation. It’s technically not an audio note but some Asian releases will only have the translated subtitles available. When watching something dubbed in the language of the subtitles and hearing a slightly different version of the dialogue it can cause some auditory processing difficulties, so this is quite an important feature to note.
Other than the usual trailers on each Well Go USA disc release The Witch: Part 2 offers a short behind the scenes featurette with much of the film’s actors and crew talking about the process and their characters. It has more of a promotional angle to it rather than a true “behind the scenes” nature of a proper making-of as the talking head testimonials seem compiled from various press junkets leading up to the film’s release in South Korea. Once the featurette finishes the disc auto-plays the trailers for other titles in Well Go USA’s catalog, which are also accessible from the disc’s main menu.
The Witch: 2. The Other One is by many counts a great action movie, with some really enjoyable performances by an ensemble cast. This series could very well blossom into something more cognizant as a vehicle for star Korean actors in a science-fiction action beat-em-up. There are some similarities between the Witch and the X-Men films, perhaps because of the nature of having something so personal robbed of you once it becomes clear that you may not be this ordinary person with a private life, or even in control of your own destiny. It’s a set of themes that we don’t see developed in at least this sequel, which is one of the few things that it doesn’t copy from its predecessor. Much of this one is a thematic rehash from the first, except at the film’s start we already know about the laboratory and what they do there, which deflates the sequel’s identical mystery surrounding the titular Other One.
It’s hardly an original or unique way to introduce someone who could very well challenge Ja-yoon from the first Witch but if you surrender yourself to the similar path this one takes, it’ll show you some slightly different sights. There are a good many brand new supporting characters, some unclear as to who they might be but become established through some of their semi-lengthy dialogue. At around the halfway point the film shifts more into a broad “superhero” category, heading towards a climactic battle which is easily the most engaging and entertaining centerpiece the story has been driving towards. “Superhero” is oversimplification in this case, since each person that has been a product of the Witch program for one faction or another (oh yeah, there are two different labs with warring supersoldiers) have their adolescence stripped of them, their internal senses of morality thus affected by external interference.
What that leaves us with is a series of tooth and nail battles for each and every test subject’s desire to reclaim their independence as their endgame. We’re only aware of it in Ja-yoon from the first film and Ark 1 from this sequel, and the tracings of Subversion’s beats make sense in the end but it robs this film of the opportunity to see this one’s main character as someone distinctively different from Ja-yoon. Audiences might be a little more split on this one than the previous movie, but by the end of the credits I’m sure the desire to stick around for the third film has not waned in the slightest. It’s a compelling world for this framing of revisionist superpowered action film, and we’re all waiting to hear what The Witch’s final film has to say about how power delegated can tip the scales towards chaos, order, or some other yet undefined realm of understanding. But I would still recommend both Witch films in spite of this one’s less inspired approach to developing its worldbuilding.
Even though it feels much the same as Subversion the action set pieces and dips into the old ultraviolence make the journey more worthwhile and fun. This release comes recommended as an entertaining film and a hint of more special features on disc releases for Well Go USA in the future.
Disclaimer: Well Go USA has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
The Witch 2: The Other One is scheduled for release November 8th, 2022 by Well Go USA on Blu-Ray and DVD.