War of the Arrows – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by RY!

War of the Arrows – 3/5 … I had to take a day to think about how I was going to review this movie; because this film  was a foreign film and it had a lack of a strong plot.  Being a film without a plot is something I find a big fault in most movies and usually makes it bland, slow and not very watchable.  I never got that feeling in this movie because of the other content of the film, (time periods, action sequence and Asian influence).  Watching, I had to think of this movie in retrospect.  Given a day to think, I finally was able to see this movie for what it was; and that was this film is more about the purity of the fight sequences and how elegant they played for the characters.  For this, I came out of this film actually entertained and wanting to see more from the character.

We start with the time period of this film.  Set during the second Manchu invasion of Korea, Nam Yi, the best archer in Korea, goes up against the Qing Dynasty to save his younger sister Ja In – who was dragged away by Manchurian.  That is the basic premise of the film.  You follow Nam Yi from childhood, who is entrusted with his dying father to protect his sister, as the escape captivity and live with a close family friend.  Fast forward a few years later and they are in exile, trying to live their life, till they are invaded by the Qing Dynasty warriors.

The characters themselves played the typical fighting characters, with traditional sword play and/or choreographed fighting and play, but what I found most interesting in this film is the play of arrows during these set pieces.  I have seen many kung-fu style movies, and the use of a lot of swords and or staffs, but never the use of arrows.  The action set pieces with the use of arrows show the visceral side of the Dynasty’s warriors and the cunningness and elegance in Nam Yi’s archery.  This is where the film stands strong, and brings the film to a different kind of heights.  You are drawn to the main character through these fights, as he is tangled with his purpose to protect his sister as well as growing to become a real man.  The final sequence is where this comes to fruition, and to not speak spoilers, you feel the most heart at the end here in this sequence.

At the same time, for the heights of the action sequences, everything else is pretty bland.  There is a quick romance setup between the sister (Ja In) with another guy, who doesn’t do or bring nothing to the role, and this causes no feeling towards this part of the story.  All the supporting cast where just in all actuality, just set pieces for either being killed or just governance for convenience part of the plot at certain parts in the movie.

The cinematography is stunning and breathtaking.  It makes you feel that you are in the time of the Manchu invasion and the score brings a gritty feel when the arrow start flying or there are stand offs.

For anyone a fan of Asian action period pieces, this is a film for you.  I’d recommend for a rental, maybe DVD purchase if you collect foreign films.


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