When Mongols abduct Ja-in on her wedding day, her brother, still reeling from the tragedy that claimed their father’s life, sets out to find her. -Netflix blurb
I like archery. I spent a good portion of my youth hitting multiple bales of hay with my recurve bow, so it comes to no surprise that a movie combining Archery and Martial Arts would appeal to me so much. War of the Arrows (Choi-Jong-Byeong-Gi Hwal) is a Korean film that was beautifully written and with great cinematography. I’m only adding the blurb from Netflix because you really must see this film. Apparently it has an alternate title Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon.
I’ve owned the DVD for a few years and I was really pleased with Netflix added it to their collection, not just because I’m too lazy to get up and place in a DVD, but to allow this film to be seen by a larger audience. Because it really should be watched at least once.
War of the Arrows is set during the Second Manchu invasion of Korea of 1627. Now I’m no historian but the costumes look authentic and for the most part that is all that matters, the locations are very beautiful and being in a forested area added to the suspense of Manchu Archery Unit chasing our hero throughout Korea. The bows look very nice, again I am no expert, and there is still a bit of swordplay to change the pace a bit.
Now I’ve only seen a few Korean films so I’m not the familiar with the actors, directors, producers and stunt choreographers. I also don’t speak Korean, or any language other than English (and even then barely). So I have to rely on voice inflections in relation to the subtitles and facial expressions to judge how well it is acted. I found all the roles to be really convincing and it won a lot of awards as well including Best Actor (twice), Best New Actress, Cinematography, Best Sound, Best supporting Actor, and the list keeps going on. Oh speaking of Subtitling both my DVD and Netflix gets it right (see previous posts about subtitling rants) large, easy to read, lettering is white with a black outline.
Park Hae-il plays our hero Choi Nam-yi. He is riddled with guilt over his father’s death when he was but a child. Park Hae-il seems to be a great actor and he is credited with doing Theatre work, including Othello.
Moon Chae-won portrays Choi Ja-in our hero’s sister. Moon won Best New Actress at the Grand Bell Awards and the Blue Dragon Film Awards for her work in War of the Arrows.
Kim Mu-yeol is Kim Seo-goon, best friend to Choi Nam-yi and betrothed to Choi Ja-in. Kim Mu-yeol also has his roots in theatre acting.
Ryu Seung-ryong takes the role of Jyuushinta, the great Qin Army Commander. I really enjoyed his performance. He received one nomination and two wins for best supporting actor in this film.
Park Ki-woong is Dorgon, Prince of Qing Manchu-China. This was a minor role and not much of it, but it was good.
This movie is too good to miss! If you have Netflix then watch it as soon as you can!
The Hollywood Reporter review
Roger Ebert review
Far East Films review