6.4/10
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3 user 4 critic

A Thousand Year-Old Fox (1969)

Cheonnyeon ho (original title)
Once upon a time, under the reign of the three kingdoms, there was a woman who tempts a Buddhist priest named Cho. She is a one-thousand-year-old fox who intends to reincarnate as a human ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Yeong-gyun Shin
Ji-su Kim
Hye-jeong Kim
Gye-shik Kang
Bang-yeol Ji
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Once upon a time, under the reign of the three kingdoms, there was a woman who tempts a Buddhist priest named Cho. She is a one-thousand-year-old fox who intends to reincarnate as a human being. Not knowing this, Cho lives with the fox. But in the end, they get separated harboring sadness of unfulfilled love in this world. Written by KCCLA

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Action | Fantasy | Horror

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8 March 1969 (South Korea)  »

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A Thousand Year-Old Fox  »

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Remade as The Legend of Evil Lake (2003) See more »

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Messy attempt at a Corean historical fantasy
8 July 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Apparently, a Corean fantasy classic of sorts, One Thousand Year Old Fox takes a hugely melodramatic and underscripted story, attached some pageantry and, at the time, the best special effects that could be mustered from the Corean film industry and puts together a rather messy film, which makes me start to wonder if director Shin Sang OK's excellent Mother and Her Guest was just an unusually good stroke of luck.

The story is a big mess. While it has a promising set up, in that a general returning from combat in ancient Silla (a kingdom that once occupied a section of the now Corean peninsula) arouses the affections of the young queen. However, in fidelity towards his beloved wife and child, he spurns the queen and she has the wife and child ejected from the city. This eventually leads to tragedy as barbarians were apparently at the gate and the wife gains the spirit of a vengeful 1000+ year old fox, who has a grudge to bear with the queen's bloodline. The spirit takes possession of the wife during the early morning hours, but the rest of the time, she's back to herself. Of course, the general is still a dutiful soldier and has to defend the queen.

It's not a bad setup, definitely one for tragedy, but the film doesn't really spend enough time developing the characters, the conflict or keeping consistent as it seemed to busy focusing on maximizing the attempts at special effects. While the effects are laughable by modern standards, they're not that bad. Unfortunately, such a focus on wirework, fancy lighting, and so forth draws out a lot of scenes and the combat scenes seem uninspired. The film stock hasn't aged well either and leaves the whole thing a bit of a blurry mess.

Frankly, I got bored. And tired of noticing story inconsistencies. It's not that the actors were terrible either, although the performances were simple, I imagine that the script didn't give them a whole lot to work with. I did appreciate the costumes, the sets and just audacity to really just go for a fantasy film set in Corean history, but it all just doesn't come together well enough. I heard that this film received a remake, released a few years ago, so I might search that out, but I imagine without an improvement in the basic material of the script, it probably won't be able to reach much higher than this. Possibly passable viewing for those who are curious and noteworthy in terms of Corean film history, but everyone else can probably skip this one. 5/10.


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