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A guksu western. Three Korean gunslingers are in Manchuria circa World War II: Do-wan, an upright bounty hunter, Chang-yi, a thin-skinned and ruthless killer, and Tae-goo, a train robber with nine lives. Tae-goo finds a map he's convinced leads to buried treasure; Chang-yi wants it as well for less clear reasons. Do-wan tracks the map knowing it will bring him to Chang-yi, Tae-goo, and reward money. Occupying Japanese forces and their Manchurian collaborators also want the map, as does the Ghost Market Gang who hangs out at a thieves' bazaar. These enemies cross paths frequently and dead bodies pile up. Will anyone find the map's destination and survive to tell the tale? Written by
I was lucky enough to see this film in a big cinema complex in the centre of Seoul, South Korea, yesterday. It is surprisingly difficult to find big Korean releases with English subtitles, so seeing Jin-Woon Kim's new film, which i have been looking forward to for well over a year, was a pleasant experience. Unfortunately everyone in the west will have to wait a little longer...
As with all of Jin-Woon Kim's films i have very little criticism to give this film, from its fantastic and totally relentless action opening to the suspenseful ending, i was completely entertained.
The cast, as expected from three of South Korea's most most talented actors were superb with in my opinion exceptionally notable roles from Lee Byun Hun and Song Kang-Ho. Lee Byung Hyun pulls off a villain superbly and fills this role with style and terror without fault. Song Kang-Ho in my opinion is the main force of the film, pulling it along with humour and perhaps the most interesting story as the film progresses. Woo-Sung Jung plays his 'good' role well but feels like the character with least depth. The film contains fantastic make-up and costume design, notably in my eyes, Lee Byung Hun's character, who looked fantastic and the on screen presence of this smart darkly dressed character set against the sandy desert was stunning.
The cinematography in this film was superb with plenty of great flying panoramic desert shots, high octane action camera maneuvers, fast cuts and perfect editing as expected from the director of such fantastic action/thriller films.
The soundtrack is fun and reminiscent of old western films with a new, modern twist to keep things up to pace. Although the story has been noted as being weak, the film really does not offer itself as an in depth period drama in the first place. The film is exactly what it calls for... Fun, fast and funny entertainment and what you can expect from some of the finest noted stars and workforce in South Korean cinema.
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