Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :1star:
Final Score: :4stars:

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. While Hong Kong and Japan ruled Asian Cinema for the 20th century, Korean films are where it’s at for the next big Asian invasion in regards to quality films. Blending bits of The Frighteners and The Sixth Sense, Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman is everything you could ask of a blockbuster Asian film. It’s got high flying action, a light hearted tone, and is simply FUN at its core without being overly pretentious or convoluted. Sure, there’s some wonkiness at the end of the 2nd act (or beginning of the third depending on how you look at it), but overall Dr. Cheon is just simply a big fun action/ghost story without trying to be anything that it’s not.

The film starts by introducing us to the titular Dr. Cheon (Gang Dong-won), a traveling “exorcist” who, along with his assistant In-bae (Lee Dong-hwi), scams people who want to cleanse their houses of evil spirits. While Dr. Cheon was once a respected medical professional, he is the grandson of a legendary shaman who was killed binding an evil mage with his magic. While Cheon seems to just be scamming his way around the country, his real goal is to find a remnant of the evil spirit/mage who destroyed his life as a child.

Luckily for him (or unluckily possibly) the good doctor stumbles across a lady named Yoo-gyeong (Esom) who is trying to exorcise a “demon” from her younger sister. Thinking it’s just another crack pot client looking to solve the known by using a shaman, Cheon agrees to take on her case for a whopping $50,000. Only thing is, once he gets to the sister he’s face to face with the same mage who killed his grandfather years ago. Now in a race against time, he and his assistant (along with the lovely Yoo-gyeong) have to track down the place where his grandfather bound the mage years ago and finish the job that his ancestors started.

Honestly, don’t look too deep into Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman as it’s a mixture of The Sixth Sense (Yoo-gyeong can see dead spirits) and The Frighteners, both of which are pure popcorn entertainment, much like Dr. Cheon is here. I had next to zero expectations going into the film as Asian ghost movies have been rather lackluster lately, but I ended up coming out of the viewing very pleasantly surprised. It’s a pleasant experience to just sit back and have fun with a movie for once instead of nitpicking it to death. The story is light hearted, the action pretty kick butt, and the special effects are superb for a Korean film (yeah it may not be Marvel circa 2019, but it’s still pretty good considering that Asia is not known for top notch CGI). Plus it’s a solid ghost film at that.

There’s some cultural issues that may show up if you’re not familiar with Buddhist folk lore, and generally Korean ghost stories in particular, but the use of charms and curses is pretty standard fare for Asian supernatural stories, and if you’re even loosely familiar with the idea you’ll pick things up pretty quickly. Simultaneously the plot sort of looses steam around the beginning of the 3rd act, but subsequently picks back up for a pretty epic battle of Shaman vs. Evil Mage at the very end.


Not Rated by the MPAA

Video: :4.5stars:
I haven’t been able to find any technical information regarding cameras used, master struck, or the like for Dr. Cheon, but the digital production is VERY nice in 1080p Blu-ray, that’s for sure. Dim and dark aesthetics blended with neon blues and hints of orange and neon red keep the entire flick looking cool and mysterious, while colors really explode during the battle scenes. Fine details are generally superb and I noticed black levels remained deep and inky with tons of revealing shadow shots. Like usual, banding does crop up here and there, but I was surprised (pleasantly) to see that it only came into play a few times (and mostly when Dr. Cheon goes into the hidden grotto to retrieve the other half of his grandfather’s magical binding spell). Overall it’s a nice looking digital image that really sparkles when the colors are allowed to come out and contrast against the dark night shots.

Audio: :4.5stars:
The film also employs a very active and very immersive 5.1 DTS-HD MA track in the original Korean (and a Dolby Digital 2.0 downmix for night listening) to enjoy. Said mix is quite active, with lots of activity during the supernatural battles, as well as some really great surround effects with whizzing sword sounds and various explosions from the mystical mage. LFE is nice and punchy, adding lots of weight to the fights as well as the effects from Dr. Cheon’s fake exorcisms near the beginning as well. Vocals are nice and clear and I found no imbalance with the dynamics (which means no bouncing up and down of the volume knob). All in all, a very active and impressive mix.

Extras: :1star:
• Theatrical Trailer
• Well Go USA Previews
• Character Bios

Final Score: :4stars:

Not gonna lie, I dig this flick. It’s not going to be as great as Gang Dong-Won’s Woochi The Demon Slayer (which I highly recommend) but it hits all the right notes for a fun popcorn watch. Minor quibbles about that 3rd act stutter aside, Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman is big budget Korean fun and I definitely recommend it for those of you who like Asian Action/ghost movies. The Blu-ray looks and sounds pretty stinking stellar with the only minor gripe being that Well Go USA has once again kept the extras to a few trailers and ONE minor Bio clip. Overall, definitely recommended.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Gang Dong-won, Huh Joon-ho, Esom, Lee Dong-hwi
Directed by: Kim Seong-sik
Written by: Gang Dong-won, Huh Joohn-ho, Esom
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Korean: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Korean DD 2.0
Subtitles: English
Studio: Well Go USA
Rated: NR
Runtime: 98 0minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: February 27th, 2024

Recommendation: Fun Watch

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