7.1/10
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29 user 24 critic

Fighter in the Wind (2004)

Baramui paiteo (original title)
A young Korean man arrives in Japan near the end of World War II with hopes of being a fighter pilot, but ends up on the streets battling racism, organized crime, occupying American ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dong-kun Yang ...
Choi Bae-dal
Aya Hirayama ...
Yoko
Masaya Katô ...
Kato
Tae-woo Jeong ...
Chun-bae
...
Beom-su
Seong-min Park ...
Ryoma
Sachiko Kokubu ...
Ryoma's Wife
Fuuma Kosaka ...
Tomoya
Mayu Sonoda ...
Setsu
Ji-woong Choi ...
Yakuza Boss
Ha Sang-Won ...
Yakuza
Han-garl Lee ...
Miwa
Han-sol Lee
Hisao Maki ...
Martial Arts Association Elder
Seong-hwan Koo ...
Circus Clown
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Storyline

A young Korean man arrives in Japan near the end of World War II with hopes of being a fighter pilot, but ends up on the streets battling racism, organized crime, occupying American servicemen, and his own fear of failure as a martial artist. (Korean with English subtitles)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

korean | japan | 1940s | 1930s | taekkyon | See All (37) »


Certificate:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

6 August 2004 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

Baramui Fighter  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Korean pop singer and actor Rain (IV) was initially cast for the lead role of Choi Bae-dal, but had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts. See more »

Quotes

Chun-bae: Justice without power is empty and power without justice in only violence.
See more »

Connections

Version of Karate Bullfighter (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Illusive Consensus
Lyrics by Simone Simons
Music by Mark Jansen, Ad Sluijter, Coen Janssen Simone Simons
Performed by Epica
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Formulaic, but fairly successful martial arts biopic
23 June 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Fighter in the Wind is a Corea-produced martial arts biopic about Masutatsu Oyama (born Choi Baedal), the ethnically Corean founder of Kyokushin karate. I actually went into this film bracing for the worst kind of nationalism that I often expect from Corean film when dealing with Japan, but was pleasantly surprised at how subdued it was. In addition to some limited, but kinetic fight sequences, Fighter in the Wind ends up being a mostly satisfying, if limited, portrait of a prominent figure of the martial arts world.

The fictionalized story covers the early portion of Oyama's life in Japan. While history shows that Oyama had actually trained in two schools of karate before developing his own technique, I imagine that much of the actual of events of his life were elided for both running time as well as nationalistic purposes, in re-centering Oyama as a Corean (perhaps to appeal to the Corean movie-going populace). In addition to watching Baedal/Oyama get beat up, beat people up and become a total badass, we also watch him make friends with another ethnic Corean (the vice-ridden best friend), develop a relationship with a Japanese woman, get schooled by a Zainichi karate instructor/circus troupe guard, and spend a chunk of time brutally training in solitude in the mountains.

The film follows a rather unsurprising approach that you can find in many martial arts films, following the hero's journey as he starts from a scrapping fighter, who gets beaten, learns and trains with a master and learned to use his skills for good and not selfish ambition, is forced to fight to protect someone, beats the big bad in the end. Yeah, totally formulaic since this film mostly fits the basic formula, but like many films before it, it works. You see the growth of Baedal/Oyama's character, you see his victory from rather rough beginnings and how he changes the lives of those around him. Basic biopic/hero-film stuff. But it's pretty well executed, so although it's nothing that's going to amaze you, at the same time, the character remains interesting enough to keep your attention, like any biopic. Unfortunately, most of the Japanese villains are painted with a rather broad near-mustache-twirling brush, so if you're looking for complexity in your story-telling, you won't find it here.

The fight scenes, while not plentiful, are kinetic and hard hitting, especially the montage as Oyama takes on school after school of Japan's elite fighters. It's fun to watch the different martial arts interact and it's hard not to root for Oyama's practical underdog style. Photography is pretty good, adapting to the different dramatic material well, while still seeming cohesive and the film doesn't tank in terms of sonic presentation. The acting was overall good, although sometimes I felt like Yang Donggun, who played Oyama, had a rather limited character to work with, but he still seemed to embody that rather simple determination with his posture, even if I had a hard time believing that his body was one of a brutally effective fighter.

I still have some issues with the probably nationalistically motivated fictionalizations to Oyama's life and the rather obvious bad-guy characterizations of the antagonists, but in terms of an engaging biopic, Fighter in the Wind actually manages to make it out okay--if you like martial arts. It's no visionary work of art, but a rather modestly put together biopic that tells the story of a man whose determination and courage led to greatness. These things work for a reason and Fighter didn't screw it up, even if it did nothing astounding. Good for martial arts fans and probably passable for everyone else. 7/10.


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