In case anyone ever wakes you up out of a sound sleep at 4 a.m. and demands that you write a movie review right then and there (a purely hypothetical situation of course), you could not have a better subject than The Divine Weapon. This movie approaches what I will think of forevermore as the Red Cliff standard. While it does not offer nearly as many brilliant martial arts scenes as Red Cliff, it makes up for it in rich character development and historical education (don’t worry, the educational aspect of the film is completely painless).
If you had to guess which weapon is considered “divine,” what would you choose? The sword? The spear? The staff? Nunjakus? Some sort of gun? All these choices would be wrong – in this case it is the Singijeon, the Korean version of the Chinese fire arrow, an early automatic weapon that fires arrows with tips that explode a few seconds after impact. I found an image of this weapon, which hopefully JPFMovies can attach below—or you can see another image, very similar to this one, at the original JPFMovies review of this film, which was appallingly titled, “The Divine Weapon – Not a Bad Flick.” (https://jpfmovies.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/the-divine-weapon-not-a-bad-flick/)
At the stage picked up by The Divine Weapon, the Singijeon is almost complete – but its inventor deliberately blows himself up and leaves the remaining research to his daughter, a very strong woman who is determined to make this weapon for her country, Korea’s Joseon kingdom. She succeeds, of course, and with her help a badly outnumbered Korean army defeats China’s Ming forces as they attempt to take over Joseon. To help her along the way, she has a merchant and his clan (she fights with the merchant, who is played by a famous Korean actor whose name I am having trouble verifying, but eventually they fall in love), the court official who ensures that she has a secret place to hide and work (at the home of the merchant), and a group of monks who help to gather the salt peter which is a necessary ingredient in gunpowder (and if you’ve ever read a story of American pioneers making gunpowder, this process may enlighten you as to the mysteries involved in that process!).
I suppose I should tell you that the best thing about this movie is that it explains the development of the Singijeon and shows exactly what went into making gunpowder and testing the new weapon. But, while those things do contribute quite a bit toward making this movie compelling and fascinating, what makes it sweet is the love story. For that alone, this movie deserves a rose.
So take that, JPFMovies. “Not a bad flick,” indeed.