War of the Arrows Review
Character development in writer-director Kim Han-Min’s thrilling War of the Arrows (Korea’s third highest grossing film this year) is economic, precise and efficient, grounding whirlwind action sequences in an emotional connection to the characters. A lavish epic based on the second Manchu invasion of Korea, the film centers on the relationship between Nam-Yi (Park Hae-II), and his younger sister Ja-In (Moon Chae-Won), whose father, a master warrior, is branded a traitor to the country and killed before their eyes. The children are taken in by a family friend who raises them as his own, continuing their education in archery but unable to remove the stigma of their being the offspring of a disgraced man. The opportunity for redemption comes thirteen years later when the Manchu brutally invade their village, kidnapping Ja-In and killing or enslaving the rest of the village, with only Nam-Yi left to save them all. From that point the film kicks into high gear with a series of bare-knuckle, cat-and-mouse fight scenes. The costumes, whether those of saloon girls or villainous soldiers, are gorgeous; the indoor sets and outdoor locations are all vibrantly shot. What makes the film work, though, is that Han-Min and his actors have fleshed out stock characters to human dimensions.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- I Never Liked the National Lampoon's Vacation Series, and This New Version Is...
- Five Reasons to Enter the Silly, Sad World of Netflix's BoJack Horseman
- You Will Learn Exactly Three New Things From the Chris Farley Documentary
- The End of the Tour Doesn't Quite Depict a Convincing David Foster Wallace