Korean resistance fighters smuggle explosives to destroy facilities controlled by Japanese forces in this period action thriller.

Director:

Jee-woon Kim
14 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Lee Byung-Hun ... Jung Chae-San
Kang-ho Song ... Lee Jung-Chool
Gong Yoo ... Kim Woo-Jin
Zach Aguilar ... Joo Dung-Sung (voice)
Richard Epcar ... Art Collector (voice)
Tae-goo Eom Tae-goo Eom ... Hashimoto
Kaiji Tang ... Hashimoto (voice)
Han Ji-min ... Yun Gye-Soon
Greg Chun ... Jo Hwe-Ryung (voice)
Kirk Thornton ... Kim Jan-Ok (voice)
Kyle Hebert ... Ludvik (voice)
Michael McConnohie ... Lee Jang-Chool (voice)
Xander Mobus Xander Mobus ... Jung Che-San (voice)
Sean Chiplock Sean Chiplock ... Kim Woo-Jin (voice)
Chris Hackney ... Heo Chul-Joo (voice)
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Storyline

Set in the late 1920s, The Age of Shadows follows the cat-and-mouse game that unfolds between a group of resistance fighters trying to bring in explosives from Shanghai to destroy key Japanese facilities in Seoul, and Japanese agents trying to stop them. A talented Korean-born Japanese police officer, who was previously in the independence movement himself, is thrown into a dilemma between the demands of his reality and the instinct to support a greater cause. Written by Anthony Mumford

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Friend or foe? Infiltration and deception. Suspicion and betrayal. The enemy lies within. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is Warner Bros. first Korean production. See more »

Goofs

In the train one of the resistance members open the pocket watch with QUARTZ inscription on dial. Second hand of the watch moves in distinct steps reaffirming they have a quartz movement inside. Quartz watch was not invented in 20s and was not available till late 60s. See more »

Quotes

Jung Chae-San: Even when we fail, we move forward. The failures accrue, and we tread on them to advance to higher ground.
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Connections

Featured in Boléro, le refrain du monde (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

When you're smiling
Written by Larry Shay (uncredited), Mark Fisher (uncredited) and Joe Goodwin (uncredited)
Performed by Louis Armstrong
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User Reviews

 
Pales in comparison to Choi Dong-hoon's "Assassination"
23 December 2016 | by klusebaSee all my reviews

"The Age of Shadows" is a historically inspired dramatic action-thriller about a group of Korean resistance fighters who are opposing the peninsula's Japanese occupation. Directed and written by creative mastermind Kim Jee-won and starring South Korean top actors like Lee Byung-hun, this epic film became South Korea's official submission for the "Best Foreign Language Film" category of the 89th Academy Awards in 2017. While the premises seemed to be very positive, I was slightly disappointed by the movie.

First of all, a much better movie with a very similar story line called "Assassination" was released only one year earlier and it beats this flick in terms of acting, pace, settings and story. It's quite difficult to identify with the main character in "The Age of Shadow" who constantly changes sides and doesn't seem to know what he believes in. Instead of portraying a man torn between two choices, the movie focuses on a rather antipathic and egoistic character who is thinking about his own advantage at all times. Even an outstanding actor like Song Kang-ho can't make this dull main character any more exciting.

"The Age of Shadow" starts with an explosive opening scene only to lead towards a lengthy introduction with endless dialogues and numerous characters. It takes close to one hour before the pace quickens up again. The first half of the movie is definitely too long and often lost my interest.

While the settings of the movie are very realistic and bring to life a genuine depiction of the Korean peninsula in the forties, the costumes and locations aren't as detailed and memorable as in many other South Korean high-quality productions.

The story remains somewhat shallow in my opinion. It's obvious that the members of the resistance are trying to attack the Japanese occupants but the film never really explains what they are organizing precisely. It's quite unsatisfying to realize that the resistance's charismatic leader is taking many risks by trusting a highly unreliable main character and personally organizing an attack against the enemy that is never ever specified. The ending also leaves many questions open and feels unfinished to me.

Despite these flaws, the movie also has many strong points. The side characters are portrayed excellently and add some depth to the movie. Especially the clever villain portrayed by Um Tae-goo is very creepy. The movie also convinces in its more intense passages. The opening scene is both dynamic and memorable. The climax on the train is very tense and will get you on the edge of your seat. The last thirty minutes of the film have a welcome dramatic and emotional touch. The settings are authentic and especially the scenes on the train, in different torture chambers and in the prison are beautifully crafted and provide a gripping and sinister atmosphere. While the story is maybe the movie's biggest flaw, it still requests some thinking from the audience and includes a few minor twists in the second half of the film that save this movie for me.

Maybe my rating would be slightly more generous if the excellent "Assassination" hadn't been released a year earlier. That film's excellent execution from any point of view makes "The Age of Shadows" look quite predictable, redundant and even unnecessary. Faithful fans of contemporary South Korean cinema should still watch both movies but I would only recommend "Assassination" to occasional international audiences. "The Age of Shadows" really pales in comparison to Choi Dong-hoon's "Assassination". On a closing note, South Korea should have chosen the outstanding horror film "The Wailing" as official submission for the "Best Foreign Language Film" category of the 89th Academy Awards in 2017.


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Details

Country:

South Korea

Language:

Korean | Japanese | Mandarin | English

Release Date:

23 September 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Age of Shadows See more »

Filming Locations:

Seoul, South Korea

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,620,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$165,685, 25 September 2016

Gross USA:

$541,719

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$54,491,162
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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