"The aim in making this film, is not to tell the story of the fiction in a way of a movie. I just want to convey the message. I want to tell people through the movie." This is director Gwang-choon Park's introduction in the "Making Of�" featurette, that accompanies this movie. As you can see, it doesn't make much sense, and it's not because the subtitling has been translated poorly, (although that doesn't help matters), but that the content of what he says is meaningless and convoluted.

And so, here we have "The Soul Guardians": a complex, confused and rather depressing sci-fi/horror hybrid, based on a Korean fictional best-seller.

I love Asian cinema a great deal, I really do. But sometimes, as with Hollywood, the strive for originality ends up with a film that goes nowhere, says nothing, and leaves the viewer feeling rather frustrated. Cheated, even. ("The Matrix Revolutions" comes immediately to mind.)

The gist of the film, follows a priest who, after being made redundant, tries to prevent an unnamed "thing" from extracting the souls of the dead, and offering those souls to Satan himself. However, the "thing" may be a ghost, or it might be a possessed serial-killer. The film never makes it clear. In fact, the film is never clear about anything. There's just no narrative that a viewer can follow, and the pieces of the filmic puzzle remain in tatters, through the long 95-minute duration.

The movie, isn't actually bad, as films go. The acting is reasonable, as the cast appear to take the whole thing seriously. The special effects are quite good too, though I do berate the over use of CGI, which appears to have been done more for impressing the audience, than for actually advancing the story. And, I have to say that the director appears to want to tell his story. But� the whole lot is just totally confused. I don't think Park knows in what direction to take the film. And if he doesn't know, then why should we bother to follow him?

It's disappointing to find out that Tai Seng who release thousands of movies for Region 3 audiences, are behind this release too. (Their UK releases have been extremely haphazard to say the least!) Normally, their titles are of exceptional quality, but here the reverse seems to be true. The picture is adequate, but by no means as great as it should be. For some reason, Region 3 movies always seem to end-up with the Master prints being retained in poor condition, resulting in scratches, dirt and other assorted damage. Quite why this is, I don't know, The problem then becomes that if the print being used for a DVD release is in a below-average state, then digital remastering needs to be undertaken. Sadly, this hasn't happened here, and it's noticeable. For audio fanatics, there's a choice of Korean Mono, Dolby 2.0 Surround, and DD 5.1. All are clear, but none of them are going to win any awards for quality. We also have a 16:9 anamorphic print. The English subtitles in the film, move along quite fast, but there aren't any major spelling or grammar errors. (The "Making Of.." featurette appears to have been undertaken by someone else entirely different, to that of the main feature.) The transition from one subtitle to the next, is performed by fading in and out each piece of text, which is a really cool effect, in comparison to most subtitled efforts.

But, when all is said and done, this film, and this disc overall, are nothing special. There are better films, and better discs available, that are far more worth your hard-earned money, than this title. If Tai Seng are willing to just put a bit more effort into their choices, as well as being more careful with the films they do release in the UK, then they could become one of the better DVD production companies in 2006. For now, though, this is a big disappointment all-round. Only worth a rental for curiosity's sake.

Review by "Pooch".

Released by Tai Seng Entertainment (UK)
Region 2 PAL
Rated 18
Extras : see main review