The Film: War of the Arrow (2011)
The Principles: Han-Min Kim (Writer/Director). Hae-il Park, Seung-Yong Ryoo, Chae-Won Moon
The Premise: An epic/adventure movie takes place during the second Manchu invasion of Korea
Is It Good: Yes. My personal choice of films for the Movie of the Day column are to choose lesser known films that have something worthwhile that won’t waste your time. This continues my choices of Venezuelan and Korean films. While not the best film I could have chosen, it is definitely not a waste of time. I may switch my South American country, but I do feel I have more to Korea after this one.
The film starts out with a bang, and the mandatory slaughter of people important in the lives of our leads, that way we know why they rebel later on. We are also introduced to the concept that the arrows in this film are more powerful and strong than bullets are in most war films. After our protagonist and his family slaughter an entire kennel of dogs, they are sent running for their lives. Our lead male seems as strong and powerful as Michael Cera, and has a hard time dragging his preteen sister out of harm’s way. 15 years later, our protagonist doesn’t seem to have changed much, but his sister has grown, and rebels in many ways, including her choice to marry against the wishes of her brother. The whole peace time moves very slowly and takes nearly 30 minutes of our film. It came dangerously close to me choosing another movie for this column.
When the action begins, all the problems with the characters and the overly redone plot fall to the side. The arrows fly, tearing trees, people and animals apart with ferocity. There is a minor amount of swordplay and some hand to hand, but the English translation of the film is true to the subject. This is a War of the Arrows.
The cinematography is gorgeous, the scenery is stunningly beautiful and the action is well framed. The period piece played well within the confines of the time, and the costumes not only added realism but came with lavish colors and materials.
I didn’t feel the movie did anything that much different than half a dozen other epics, but it did it very well. The other thing of interest is that this epic comes from Korea, not from China or Japan. While they have produced epics before, they are often few and far between. It comes with a high production value and there is no questioning that this film was well funded for South Korea.
Is It Worth A Look: Yes. While not much above average, it is a good film. It played out like a Spaghetti Western and a Samurai film had a love child. Our villain and his group of warriors have a great deal of honor and definitely command respect, chewing up the screen time more effectively than our protagonists do. The closer we get to mandatory final showdown the more the two sides both get built into immovable objects. It all comes down to our wishy washy hero and the mesmerizingly strong villain.
Arrow, the ultimate weapon is another translated name for this movie.
The film was nominated for the Action Asia Award from the Deauville Asian Film Festival.
The non-heroic lead actor, Hae-Il Park was nominated for Best Actor and Favorite Actor from the Asian Film Awards.
Hae-Il Park has starred in a number of Korean favorites such as Memories of Murder and The Host.
Cinematic Soulmates: The Warrior. Hero. The Patriot. Gladiator. 13 Assassins. House of Flying Daggers