HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Await Further Instructions
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
In Order of Disappearance
Charlotte's Web
Meg, The
Christmas Blood
Equalizer 2, The
1985
Mowgli
Ski School
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Age of Shadows, The
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Othello
First Reformed
Red White and Zero
Death Wish
Cry Wilderness
Heiresses, The
Millhouse: A White Comedy
Skyscraper
Born of Fire
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Lucia
Yanks
Sweet November
Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The
Real Men
Shoplifters
Redeemer
   
 
Newest Articles
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
The Big Grapple: Escape from New York and Its Influence
The Conquest of Everett: The Kenny Everett Video Show on DVD
Bout for the Count: Hammer's Dracula in the 1970s
Nopes from a Small Island: Mistreatment of American Stars in British Films
You Know, For Kids: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box
If He Were a Carpenter and It Was the 80s: The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live
Tee-Hee, It's 80s Sci-Fi Horror: Night of the Comet, The Stuff and Night of the Creeps
Chance of a Ghost: The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
3 Simian Slashers: Phenomena, Link and Monkey Shines
When is a Jackie Chan Movie Not a Jackie Chan Movie? Armour of God and City Hunter
   
 
  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 36 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 do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Stately Wayne Manor
George White
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
Rashed Ali
   

 

Last Updated: