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Life of a upcoming Korean patriot Park Yeol, who formed the anarchist organization "Black Wave" during the Japanese colonial period and attempted the assassination of the Japanese Crown Prince Hirohito.

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Credited cast:
Je-hoon Lee ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Soo-Jang Baek ...
Choi Young-hwan
Hee-seo Choi ...
...
Fumiko Kaneko
Min Jin-Woong ...
In-woo Kim ...
Mizuno
Jun-han Kim ...
Kwon Yool
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Life of a upcoming Korean patriot Park Yeol, who formed the anarchist organization "Black Wave" during the Japanese colonial period and attempted the assassination of the Japanese Crown Prince Hirohito.

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28 June 2017 (South Korea)  »

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Anarchist from Colony  »

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Dramatic biopic with a few lengths
8 January 2018 | by See all my reviews

Anarchist from Colony is a drama and biopic about Korean anarchist Park Yeol , carefully directed by Lee Joon-ik who is known for his numerous intellectual historical period drama movies.

There are several positive elements about this film. First of all, the acting is flawless. Lee Je-hoon convinces as wild idealist who meanders between determination, emotivity and madness. Choi Hee-seo convinces as his seemingly joyful girlfriend and soulmate who only masks her hideous past. The portrayal of the characters seems to be quite authentic as the viewers might feel both disgust and sympathy for certain actions of the two anarchists. The story is based upon true events as the two main characters got arrested for planning to kill the Japanese heir apparent in the late twenties when Koreans living in Japan had to face racism, persecution and even genocide. Secondly, the settings of the movie bring the early twenties in Japan back to life without too many visual special effects. The locations are simple but efficient, the costumes are varied and authentic and even cultural, political and social aspects back in those days are carefully interwoven. Even though this movie obviously shows us the Korean side of those historical events and shows numerous Japanese characters portrayed as closed-minded, megalomaniac and racist, the film also shows Japanese people showing respect to the two anarchists and insists multiple times that the Japanese government and monarchy was at fault and not the people themselves. From that point of view, the movie doesn't feel overtly patriotic and rather balanced which is a third positive element.

On the other side, Anarchist from Colony is also far from being a masterpiece. With a running time above two hours, the movie feels plodding and stretched at times, especially in the middle section. A more vivid pace with some additional scenes related to the gruesome massacre of Koreans and other historic events would have made this film even more immersive. On the other side, cutting between twenty and thirty minutes of the lengthy scenes in prison would have improved this film's flow.

In the end, Anarchist from Colony might interest you if you are genuinely interested in Korean history and if you have a weakness for dramatic biopics. At times, the film felt closer to a documentary than a regular feature. The acting performances, the detailed settings and the fact that the film avoided being too propagandist are this movie's highlights while the film is overall too long and quite plodding at times.


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