Film: War Of The Arrows
UK Release date: Out now
Director: Han-min Kim
Starring: Hea-il Park, Seung-yong Ryoo, Moon Chae-won, Mu-yeol Kim, Han-wi Lee
Running time: 118 mins
Country: South Korea
Reviewer: Adam Wing
Orphaned as a child, Nam Yi (Hae-il Park) overcame tragic loss to become the most accomplished archer of his generation. When Chinese forces attack Korea, he returns to discover that his sister - who he’s sworn to protect - has been taken into slavery on her wedding day by Manchu invaders. Now he must prove himself against some of the greatest archers in history, shooting to thrill in a brave attempt to re-unite his family. War of the Arrows picked up 11 international awards on its way to DVD, and it’s easy to see why.
Park Hae Il (The Host) won Best Actor at the Daejong and Blue Dragon Film Awards for his screen-hugging portrayal of the lone archer that would put Robin Hood to shame. Television starlet Moon Chae Won plays his sister, and without her we wouldn’t be blessed with such an adrenaline pumping night in. Directed by Kim Han Min (Paradise Murdered), War of the Arrows is a fast-paced action epic blessed with thrilling chase sequences, electrifying combat and exquisite direction. Kim Moo Yeol crops up as Moon Chae Won's husband, Park Ki Woong plays a Manchu prince, and Ryu Seung Ryong (The Front Line) swaps gunfire for bows as the leader of the Manchurian archers.
Kim Han Min (Paradise Murdered) starts as he means to go on, with a high-paced chase sequence that finds our protagonists being hunted by a pack of ravenous dogs. It rarely slows down from here, but the film remains exciting thanks to some gritty direction and excellent use of sound. The creaking of the bows and the whistling of the arrows create plenty of tension, and War of the Arrows shocks and surprises at every turn. The plot is very straight forward, which is kind of refreshing for a period action epic, and needless melodrama is shown the door by a series of gut-punching set pieces that rarely miss their mark.
Gripping, tense and action packed, War of the Arrows gets everything right. With a captivating lead turn and characters you can care about, Kim Han Min has hit the target and then some. It’s a Bullseye.