The 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia kicked off in Sydney on Wednesday night, with a fantastic opening gala and a very intense action film, War of the Arrows. Guests were greeted by an army of green KOFFIA volunteers who were all very energetic and enthusiastic – they really did a fantastic job to make sure that everyone was looked after and had a great evening. We were lucky to sample a variety of Korean canapés and some interesting rice-based alcoholic drinks. After filling up, we headed into the cinema for the opening speeches and a beautiful traditional Korean dance performance.
Then it was time for a 122 minute Korean epic – it’s easy to see why this was the highest grossing Korean film of 2011. It was…intense! Brief thoughts after the jump.
In 17th century Korea brother and sister pair, Nam-Yi (Park Har-Il) and Ja-In (Moon Chae-Won) are forced to flee for their lives when their household comes under attack because of an act of treason it is claimed their father has committed. They flee to the nearby compound where they seek refuge and a home with a friend of their fathers. Fast-forward many years and the beautiful Ja-In is set to marry the son of their benefactor. However the marriage ceremony is interrupted when the Manchus once again invade the area. During the horrific invasion Nam-Yi is separated from his sister and her groom, who are captured and taken away with other villagers. Nam-Yi begins a lone mission to find his sister and her groom, and take down the men responsible for the atrocities.
The film’s title comes from the weapon of choice during this period of history – bow and arrows. Our hero Nam-Yi is an extraordinarily skilled archer, who was taught (along with his sister) by their father from a very young age. You’ve seen bullets bend in films like The Matrix, but in this film you’ll see arrows bend and hit targets that seem completely impossible. The action scenes in this film are intense and relentless – from start to finish there is very little down-time. While these scenes are extremely impressive, the seemingly never-ending game of cat and mouse did get a little tiring in the later stages of the [slightly too long] film. The performances are extremely good, with the lead Nam-Yi displaying unbridled energy and a burning anger to right the many wrongs which had befallen his family and his people.
History, politics, love, death, action, war – this film really has it all. A great action-packed way to open the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia.
Director: Han-min Kim
Screenplay: Han-min Kim
Starring: Hae-il Park, Seung-yong Ryoo, Chae-won Moon
Runtime: 122 minutes
War of the Arrows is also screening in Melbourne and Brisbane as part of the festival. For information, please go here.