ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – A – The Age of Shadows (2016) Movie Review

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Writer: Jee-woon Kim, Ji-min Lee, Jong-dae Park (Screenplay)

Starring: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Yoo Gong, Ji-min Han, Hee-soon Park, Tae-goo Eom

Plot: Korean resistance fighters smuggle explosives to destroy facilities controlled by Japanese forces in this period action thriller.

Tagline – Friend or foe? Infiltration and deception. Suspicion and betrayal. The enemy lies within.

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Keeps You Guessing

Story: The Age of Shadows starts as we see Korean detective Lee Hung-Chool (Song) trying to track down the leaders of the resistance in the country, he does find a way to get close to the leader through Kim Woo-Jin (Gong) who filled in information, while Lee offers information to get them out of the problems coming their way.

Lee is then joined by Japanese detective Hashimoto (Eom) who has a very different approach to looking to solve the problem, leading to the two clashing on approaches, throwing away the intel Lee had achieved, leaving him needing to rebuild the relationship, which has seen the Resistance move to Shanghai, we are left to wonder who can trust who, who is working for who and what the true motivation behind the actions of the resistance are.

Thoughts on The Age of Shadows

Characters – Captain Lee Jung-Chool is a well-respected Korean detective, he has been hunting the resistance that have been fighting against the Japanese trying to control the land, he has made connections which does see him getting torn between helping both sides, not knowing which will be the best for his homeland, clashing with the Japanese detective assigned to work with him, but trapped knowing either way will see him get killed. Jung Chae-San is the leader of the resistance, he lives in the shadows, only appearing when the time calls for it, knowing Lee could be corrupt, but willing to risk the connection to aid his people. Kim Woo-Jin is the man that makes the connection with Lee, he sees that he does want what is best for Korea, but does have his hands tied in how he can help

PerformancesKang-ho Song in the leading role is excellent to watch, we believe him in every difficult decision he finds himself needing to make, Byung-hun Lee brings the calm to the film, which works wonderfully and Yoo Gong as the man between the two shows us the more reckless side of someone in the underground.

StoryThe story here follows a detective that gets caught up in the middle of fighting the resistance of Korea or aiding the Japanese looking to take over, needing to get close to the leaders and learning the true meaning of being a patriot. This is a story that does keep us guessing as to what Lee’s action will be, the story balances how both sides are trying to do the right thing in their eyes and how they look to make the difference that will bring the country to a better place. We get to learn about the history of the resistance trying to get freedom from Japan, even if certain things will have been dramatized for the film. This is one of those stories that you can enjoy with the unknowing of the reality of what is going to happen.

ActionThe action in the film comes from the shootouts between the two sides, we get some tense moments before bullets fly through the scenes.

SettingsThe film does use the settings to take us to different locations from Korea, to Shanghai and showing us how the operation isn’t completely in the shadows, sometimes they are hidden in plain sight.

Scene of the Movie – The Police Bureau do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Could have done with a little bit more information about the true events.

Final Thoughts This is an action thriller that does keep us guessing along the way, leaving us wondering who is on which side as both believe they are right.

Overall: Intense Thriller.

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