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Korea in the year 1933, the country is occupied by the Japanese army. Many warriors of the resistance where forced into the exile in China. Now they are trying to organize the fight from the distance. Now the resistance has learned that the highest commander of the Japanese army is going to visit Korea. They decide to take the chance and kill him by assassination. But the only sniper who is able to make that shot is Ahn Ok-yun, who is serving her time in the prison of Shanghai. The resistance agent Yem Sek-jin is set to get her and her comrades out, but his plan is offered to the Japanese by a traitor. Now, Ok-yun and her warriors not just have to flee from the Chinese prison, she also must face the Japanese army and a very special hit-man, assigned to take her down.Written by
Intellectual action-drama that requests multiple viewings
"Assassination" or "Amsal" is an engaging and epic mixture of an espionage action film and a historically inspired drama. Both genre parts are equally balanced and the modern special effects aren't so overloaded that they feel out of context in a movie set more than eighty years ago. The film convinces with an intellectually appealing script, diversified and great characters and acting performances and a solid mixture of historically inspired storytelling, personal drama parts and tense action scenes. There is no doubt that this is one of the best movies of the year.
Over the course of almost two and a half hours, the film tells the story of an assassination attempt on a Japanese governor and a pro-Japanese Korean business tycoon by Korean resistance activists during Japan's colonial rule of Korea. The movie is set at different times and even the perspectives slightly change which makes the movie a little bit hard to follow in the beginning. The film takes all the time it needs to introduce the different characters and the historical settings which adds a lot of depth to the characters, details to the historic elements and emotions to the story. These are the reasons why the slightly long introduction that might be hard to sit through for wider audiences is absolutely essential to the rest of the movie.
The first slow-paced hour builds up to the furious last ninety minutes of the film. The final two thirds of the film feature a stellar acting performance, a smart use of camera angles, costumes, locations, soundtrack and special effects by the director and a clever story with many predictable but also unpredictable twists and turns in form of different conspiracies.
Especially the fate of female sniper Ahn OK-yun who is portrayed by an absolutely stunning Jun Ji-hyun in the best performance of her career is a key element of the movie. Most viewers will probably care a lot about the twisted ups and downs of this engaging character.
The showdown of the movie is one of the best directed action scenes in world cinema this year and in the history of Korean cinema in general. It's not as memorable as the fighting scenes in "Oldboy", "The Man from Nowhere" or "The Admiral: Roaring Currents" but it gets quite close and has a breathtaking choreography. The coda of the movie which takes place almost two decades after the actions of the main plot is an excellent way to end a great movie on a high note.
Due to it's complex story and high number of directional ideas, I would recommend watching this movie several times. This emotional action-drama is definitely worth your attention and one of the cinematic highlights of the year. I can't wait to revisit this great film and buy this movie on DVD or Blu-ray next year.
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