Thursday, June 20, 2013

Film Review: War of the Arrows (2011)

War of the Arrows (Review)
South Korea/2011
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

As children, Nam-yi and Ja-in witness their father's death and are forced to escape - the pair find refuge with their father's best friend, Kim Mu-seon. Years later, Nam-yi (Park Hae-il) is a skilled archer, and Ja-in (Moon Chae-won) plans to marry Mu-seon's son, Seo-goon (Kim Mu-yeol). Before the wedding is completed, the village is invaded and Ja-in has been kidnapped.

The story in this film is simplistic yet entertaining; it's very easy to follow and very immersive. The characters are quickly introduced with some brief detail, and the setting is also briefly described through conversations. Action is the main element of the story. War of the Arrows, or Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon, is an action film at heart. The story begins with an emotional and thrilling sequence. Then, it takes a brief moment to introduce the characters, the dilemmas, and the marriage. After the invasion, the film is pure action. The large scale chase scenes are dreadfully thrilling as characters are chased by dozens of soldiers and arrows through beautiful scenery. Arrows are whizzing towards the audience every other scene, while swords violently clash during the rest. The second half of the film is a nonstop action sequence filled with variety. And, it all leads up to a stunning ending.

Park Hae-il is fantastic as the lead. He shows subtle emotion perfectly, someone trying to cover up his feelings; and, he also shows frustration, relief, and sadness very well. Moon Chae-win's performance is very similar, hiding her emotion until the perfect moment. Kim Mu-yeol plays a minor role, but he plays it very well; he looks a lot like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, by the way. The rest of the cast deliver equally impressive and believable performances.

The film is directed masterfully written well by Kim Han-min. The cinematography is superb, perfectly capturing the lavish scenery with amazing visuals; the ending in particular is captured beautifully. There is one scene that used some odd special effects that briefly hurt the film's immersion; fortunately, the film rebounds for a fantastic ending. The music compliments the film effectively, it captures the era and heightens the tension; I'd love to listen to this soundtrack without the film. The film is fairly paced during the first act, then becomes a ferociously paced action/thriller - the second half of this film was over before I knew it.

Overall, War of the Arrows is a fantastic action film - epic would be an understatement. The acting is great, the cinematography is superb, and the action sequences are fantastic and
versatile; the two hour runtime feels like so much less thanks to the ferocious pace and consistent action.Watching arrows curve through impossible angles reminded me of Wanted, but with arrows instead of bullets. This is a must watch South Korean gem. I highly recommend a purchase.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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