Once again we have a foreign language film which for that very reason will put many off but once again this is a film which you should see. Directed by Jee-Woon Kum after his foray into Hollywood films with Schwarzenegger’s contemporary The Last Stand whereas his Age of Shadows is set in the late 1920’s and is far better and opens up with a cat and mouse chase sequence across the roof tops in a sequence that recalls ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and ends with one of the most painful look away shots you’ll see outside of Eli Roth’s ‘Hostel’ films. The sequence is a covert operation against the Korean resistance movement as Kim Jan-ok (Park Hee-soon), now a Resistance fighter flees from the police in particular Lee Jung-chool (Song Kang Ho) who is great as the who has a load of shady contacts in the underworld and takes pay from whoever offers him money and plays each side against the other whilst trying to not to raise suspicions from his own boss as to what he’s up to.
He is entrusted with hunting down the resistance leader by his own police chief and comes into contact with the operations chief of the resistance and what follows is a superb game of duplicity and double crosses. Fortunately this is not an ‘inspired by true events’ but freely admits to being an original work of fiction based on historical facts – those facts being the bombing in 1923 of a Seoul police station and this is a typically intriguing war time story of spies and espionage.
Despite the opening sequence it is a little sluggish in the first half but pace picks up once past this and things really get going with a extended sequence on a train as the resistance members are hunted down by the police force as the then undercover officer tries to keep their identities secret and warn each of them which in turn necessitates their re-planning their plot as they go with each set of characters belting up and down the train carriage trying to keep ahead of the others before their identities are revealed. It’s followed by an enthralling set piece at the train station which is stunningly shot. At 140minurtes this is a long film but builds towards a gratifying climax all set to Ravel’s Bolero which for once doesn’t have two ice skaters clattering about.
This is ambitious in scale, sumptuous in look and compelling in story and as we have said before don’t be put off by the subtitles.
Here’s the trailer…….