HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
Star, The
Tom & Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale
Shadow
Christmas Carol, A
Legend of the Demon Cat
Adventures of Sinbad, The
Wounds
Love & Peace
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  Age of Shadows, The A Career In KoreaBuy this film here.
Year: 2016
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Stars: Lee Byung-Hun, Gong Yoo, Song Kang-ho, Park Hee-soon, Sin Seong-rok, Seo Yeong-ju, Eom Tae-goo, Shingo Tsurumi, Jung Yoo-An, Kim Dong-Young, Go Joon, Foster Burden, Jeong Ha-dam, Heo Sung-tae, Nam Moon-cheol, Hiromitsu Takeda, Oh Ha-Nee
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The time is the nineteen-twenties, and the place is Korea which is under occupation by the Japanese forces who hold the populace in a state of fear lest they get out of line and upset their invaders. However, there is a resistance, and it is armed and willing to use violence to get rid of the occupiers, though they are far outgunned by them, and are largely consisting of loosely-connected cells across the land. Once these resistance fighters are found, they are arrested and tortured to get as much information about their cohorts as possible, but many do not wish to come quietly, becoming martyrs in the process. For Korean police officer Lee Jung-Chool (Song Kang-ho), life gets difficult...

That's because he is very much a sympathiser with the resistance when his job dictates he must be loyal to the Japanese, which places him in a position both privileged and tricky; he is not a double agent, but this dichotomy in his public and private faces generated the tension director and co-writer Kim Jee-woon, coming off some impressive successes internationally, was seeking, though while he was the protagonist Song was not necessarily the lead star. Those roles were taken by heartthrobs Lee Byung-Hun and Gong Yoo, who played fellow anti-Japanese insurgents, and while they were perfectly serviceable in that function, the heart, you felt was with the conflicted Lee.

After an exciting opening where he tries to coax a resistance fighter out of an ambush only to see him overwhelmed by government troops, leaving only his shot-off toe (!) behind, The Age of Shadows tended to settle into a lot of talk, evidently taking its lead from the World War II dramas featuring the French resistance against the Nazis, of which there had already been an abundance of various levels of intensity. Kim was aiming for intensity, certainly, yet risked losing his audience when he opted to ramp up the paranoia and suspense, at least for that first hour where even we watching were not wholly sure of who we were supposed to be trusting, never mind the fighters.

It took a while, but we began to see how the director was piecing together his jigsaw puzzle around the point that the characters end up on a train to Seoul, or a lot of them do, the good guys trying to get there for a major assault, the bad guys trying to expose them and make sure they never get to their destination without being arrested. This whole sequence, which lasted a good while (this was a near-two and a half hours long movie) reminded us why Kim was so respected and had won such a following across the world, as it was the highlight, a masterfully assembled exercise in espionage in a confined space where we genuinely do not know who will emerge the victor. What we are assured of is that there will be an explosion of violence, and possibly an actual explosion of explosives, before the film is over.

The story was so down on the Koreans that though this had been based in fact to an extent, it grew so you thought Kim was laying it on fairly thick, though it was true that the Japanese exerted some of the most brutal torture methods any government of the twentieth century cared to use, at least from one claiming to be civilised. To that end there was a sense of regular point-scoring from the Koreans making this, getting their own back in cinematic form now they could do so without a threat of backlash or the dire consequences their characters were facing, but if you were able to overlook the politics then here was a highly accomplished thriller with dramatic episodes to flesh out what could have been a collection of Secret Army stereotypes. All that said, no matter how downbeat this became, there was little doubt of how it would end, there was no way a Korean movie was going to close with a defeat, though a Pyrrhic victory could be argued when the body count was this high. Music by Mowg.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 585 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: