24 November 2006 | swemik
Interesting, but for the wrong reasons
This movie has a semi interesting plot. Not very new or original, neither very bad or too obvious. As usual when it comes to South Korean popular movie industry the craftsmanship is next to flawless. The lighting and the scenery are beautiful, the soundtrack is very sentimental and bordering to über-cheese but that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone with the slightest experience in Asian movies. The acting is also good though the English dub doesn't seem to even try to do any lip sync and brings down the overall impression. The special effects are functional but not really that spectacular. Also, the action scenes have way to much slow motion for my taste. Though, I guess this is made in order to boost the sense of patriotism. And, this is where I have my main criticism.
It contains about all components of the propaganda the nationalistic parts of South Korean society likes to flatter itself with. Embarrassingly obvious, even more than usual. North and South Korea are united because they really are brothers. No Korean would harm another Korean. Japan is an enemy, has always been and will always be. Japanese people are not to be trusted, not even those you consider close friends. The Korean on the other hand are brave and self sacrificing with a pure heart. The key to the entire plot comes from the superior ancient culture and system of worship from the Korean peninsula. There are so many subtle details that are being pushed in that mean really a lot if you have an understanding of Korean culture, like the Korean main character has become so Japanese he doesn't even eat Kimchi (!).
I agree that the patriotism is so much an undisputed part of Korean culture even today that it should not come as a surprise, and I have enough experience of South Korea to be very aware of this when watching this movie. The problem here is that this script is so saturated with nationalistic propaganda that I feel it being written for this very purpose. It can sometimes lead to (umm...) interesting results, though seldom to properly good ones.
It's the equivalent of the American action movie where all baddies have a "foreign" accent, smoke cigarettes and the bad guy boss has a hint of latent homosexuality. Just translate those components into Korean values. Enjoy it as no-brainer entertainment for killing some time, or more interestingly for understanding the components of Korean nationalism and the grudge toward Japan in a commercial movie production. If you want to see a really good Korean movie, for there are lots of them, pick another one.