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Two children Nam-yi and Ja-in are being chased by King Injo's guards and saved by their father Choi Pyeong-ryung, an officer of King Gwanghae and a skilled archer. He sends his own children to find a place of refuge with his best friend Kim Mu-seon. As they escape crying, Ja-in begs her brother to go back to their father but their father is killed in front of Nam-yi. Nam-yi, though bitten by the guard dogs, kills them and escapes with Ja-in. Nam-yi becomes the only family Ja-in has. 13 years later Nam-yi is now a skilled archer and hunter. He learns from Mu-seon's son Seo-goon that he and Ja-in plan to get married, with the approval of Mu-seon who is also Ja-in's godfather. During the wedding, Nam-yi is up in the mountains hunting deer. He hears the rumble of the invading forces. When Nam-yi makes it back to the village, he finds his step-father slaughtered and his sister taken away. Nam-yi then sets out to find the Qing army and take out their army with his bow. Written by
A skilled archer is betrayed by his king and is labeled a traitor. As his home is invaded, he has his children flee to the home of his best friend, Kim Min-soon (Lee Kyeong-Yeong). Before they can escape, his children witness their father's death. Thirteen years later, the archer's children have both inherited their father's archery skills. Nam-Yi (Park Hae-il) spends most of his days brooding, keeping to himself, and drinking his life away. Ja-in (Moon Chae-won) has bigger things in mind and is prepared to marry the son of Kim Min-soon Seo-goon (Kim Mu-Yeol) even if it's without her older brother's blessing. On their wedding day, Manchurian soldiers attack their village, kidnap Ja-in, and enslave everyone that isn't killed in the initial attack. Nam-Yi will stop at nothing to gain revenge and rescue his sister with his trusted bow even if it means going up against the Qing army and its remorseless commander Jyuu Shin-Ta (Ryu Seung-Ryong).
If the trailer doesn't sell you on War of the Arrows, then nothing will. The brief glimpses you get of the chase through the forest and arrows practically falling into your lap as they wisp by you should make that inner action child inside most of us squeal with delight. Have you ever been on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland? There's a part where arrows are supposedly being shot at you and you feel gusts of air blowing from every direction giving you the feeling that you're narrowly dodging serious injury or death. I would love to see War of the Arrows in a theater with that effect when the action gets heavy. It would be one of the greatest movie theater experiences ever.
To state the obvious, there's an extreme importance lying on bows and arrows in this foreign action film. It does take place in the mid-1600s, so maybe firearms had yet to make it to Korea. It's fascinating to see a war movie like this with an absence of any sort of guns though, especially with such excellent results. The arrows are not only important as a weapon, but the types of arrows used by each individual archer usually helps identify the person shooting them. The half-pound arrow is a great example, but even Nam-Yi's red arrows make it easier for his enemy to track him.
The fast-paced action does get really heavy though and that should be the selling point. Get excited whenever somebody runs into a forest. Those sequences along with the ones in the field are the best in the film. Arrows flying in every direction, everyone hiding behind trees for cover, and blood spraying into the air as some unfortunate soul wasn't aware of Nam-Yi's awesome arrow shooting technique. It's also pretty much become the standard of all foreign films looking superb on Blu-ray. War of the Arrows is littered with luscious shades of green, red, and yellow. The film is just completely enriched with both color and fantastic action.
Complaints for the film are few and far between. The camera work is a bit too shaky at times, especially in the first half of the film. It seems like the camera man is running with the actors, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but will leave you craving a steadier shot. We probably could have gone without the barf scene, as well. The completely computer generated tiger also looks kind of funky, but isn't around long enough to be much of an issue.
War of the Arrows is beautiful to look at, has a solid story, features a strong cast, and its action is swift and intense. While the camera work is a bit wobbly at times during the action sequences, it eventually balances out. With its vibrant colors, breathtaking scenery, and accelerated chases that usually end in bloodshed, War of the Arrows is not to be missed by anyone who's a fan of action or foreign films.
Special features and extras are kept to a bare minimum. There's a four minute behind the scenes feature. The biggest piece of information you take away from it is how fast Park Hae-il was able to learn how to ride horses and use a bow and arrow. The three minute "Highlights" feature is a little odd. It introduces the characters, but also gives away several key story moments. Then there's the original trailer and the U.S. trailer. That's all the bonus materials War of the Arrows has.
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