Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Blades of Blood (2010) - ★★★½

Director: Joon-Ik Lee
Writers: Seok-Hwan Choi, Cheol-Hyeon Jo, Oh Seung-Hyeon
Stars: Jeong-min Hwang, Seung-won Cha, Ji-hye Han, Seong-hyeon Baek, Chang-wan Kim

Blades of Blood is simply a really good action movie. It doesn't delve right into Korean history, or give us anything substantial to learn from. It gives us entertaining characters, a riveting story, some great sword-fighting scenes, and beautiful cinematography. It's not a film to go out of your way to see, but it's definitely a movie worth seeing. It's the very first South Korean action movie I've ever seen (I don't count Oldboy), and it was a perfect introduction to their action-film industry for me. Its greatest moments are from Jeong-min Hwang, who played a blind man/masterful swordsman with a wicked sense of humour.

Set in the late 1500s, Korea was on the verge of being invaded by the Japanese. There was a large group of rebel soldiers by the name of The Alliance, which was formed to protect the country from the Japanese. Mong-hak (Seung-won Cha) is the leader of The Alliance, and his ambition is to become the king himself. Two men team up to stop Mong-hak, one being a lovable blind man named Jeong-hak (Jeong-min Hwang), and the other being a young man named Gyeon-ja (Seong-hyeon Baek). With the country fighting with itself and a war with the Japanese looming, it's up to the quirky pair to find a resolve.

The main reason to watch this movie.

My favourite thing about Blades of Blood is definitely the character Jeong-hak. I found his antics extremely funny, and his fighting skills to be really epic. Since he's blind, he relies on his ears to be his eyes. Jeong-min Hwang gave such a terrific performance. His lines were delivered with perfect comic timing, and his expressions made him an entirely believable blind man. I'd give him an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor.

Two sword-masters fighting to the death. It was EPIC.
The cinematography was really effective, especially when it came to revealing the characters thoughts and feelings. I love the way it zoomed in on their faces at crucial moments. It made every single expression very powerful, especially with the character Baek-ji (Ji-hye Han), who was Mong-hak's former girlfriend. Han gave a terrific performance. If only she had more to say, then I would have nominated her for Supporting Actress. Her character is a little underutilized, but still a wonderful addition to the film.

One of my favourite South-Korean actors is Seung-won Cha. I adored him in the romance-drama TV series The Greatest Love, where he pretty much played a quirky and silly version of himself. Here, he plays such a believable and powerful sword-master, and the leader of a rebel army. His height and his stern face makes him such an intimidating force, and a thoroughly believable character. His action scenes were epic... he just made the whole movie epic.

This movie has its flaws, but it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I really enjoyed Blades of Blood. Its great performances, awesome story, and fantastic cinematography set it apart from other action movies. If you love South Korean cinema, any of these actors, or just action movies in general, then I think you'll like this movie!

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