Director: Han-min Kim
Starring: Hae-il Park, Seung-yong Ryoo, Chae-won Moon, Mu-Yeol Kim
The Film: To me, human mythology is human history and vice versa. Be it great or small, humanity is very much it’s own gods, heroes, saints and sinners, but while the mythological fable acts mainly in the interest of cautionary tale, human fable tells us of where we come from and where we may go. In the case of the biggest South Korean historical epic to date “War Of The Arrows” directed by Kim Han-min, the tale to be told is the perfect example of human myth in motion. Nam-yi (Park Hae-il) is a young, skilled archer in 1636 who comes face to face with the Manchurian invaders after they lay waste to his village, kill most of his family, enslave his fellow villagers and abduct the bride of his brother. His journey will be perilous and his enemies many, and alongside being armed with his wits, he vows to lay waste to the invaders with but one arrow.
What happens from there is nothing short of miraculous. It’s not often I get to see a fantastic foreign film that completely engrosses me, and when I say ‘engross’ I mean grabs me from start to finish without allowing me to look at my clock or think about going for a toilet break. South Korean cinema has recently truly spread its’ wings across the world, starting from some seriously frightening K-Horror to varied genres.
This film is massive on all levels, and yet it remains very self-contained when it comes to dealing with the lead characters. While the Manchurian war machine is like an enormous beast, Nam-yi is but one man, and it is him that we follow through all of this. He is us, and yet, he is the legendary hero who comes from humble beginnings only to show the rest of the world the amazing feats he is truly capable of. That being said, its’ impossible not to marvel at the scope of this picture and the inhabitants who live in this beautiful yet vicious world. Every shot is grandiose and with very little alteration- George Lucas should take notes- the natural world is scores better than a completely manufactured one. Speaking of scores, I gotta get my claws onto the soundtrack, it is a thing of aural beauty!
This is the kind of film that will spark the interests and inspirations in the audience on multiple levels, but what appealed to me the most is that this is a tale fit to join the ranks of The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey and Beowulf if it hasn’t done so already. This film is what myth and man is made of.
The Australian Blu-ray
* English dub (to be expected, I suppose, but watch the feature with subtitles – the performances aren’t lost in translation that way)
* Behind the scenes- small and what you’d expect, but still a welcome addition.
* Original theatrical trailer
* International trailer
Review written by Bea Harper
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.