The Divine Weapon (Singijeon) – 2008

mpark4 in Koreatown is screening this Korean blockbuster with English subtitles. It’s a great opportunity to catch this highly entertaining historical epic on film with Subtitles.

The plot is pretty thin and involves the efforts of carefree merchant (Jeong Jae-yeong in a star making performance) and the beautiful daughter of weapons expert to create the Singijeon, the Korean version of the rocket (which apparently was created several hundred years before it’s western counterpart as the film’s closing caption tells us).

While everything is pretty much by the numbers, there are several key factors which set the film apart from other films in this genre. The main event is the Singijeon itself, a very cool arrow with gunfire that is responsible for some of the more exhilarating action sequences in the film. Other than that the pacing of the film is pretty good and while it has a running time of 135 minutes it does not feel bloated at all like many other recent Korean efforts. Lastly, while still very violent, the tone of the film is a bit lighter and it offers a very appealing mix of action, intrigue, suspense, drama and romance. I personally can’t ask for much more from a good summer blockbuster.

If I have any complaint is that one of my favorite actors, Ahn Sung Ki, gets top billing, but actually has only a few minutes of screen time as the Korean king. He is pretty much here to collect a paycheck and while I would have loved to have seen more of him it’s nice to see him clear the stage for some of the younger Korean talent.

On a related side note, the AFI film festival will screen several Korean films including the very bleak thriller, The Chaser (which I’ve already seen, so I may skip) and the highly anticipated new Kim Ji Woon film, The Good the Bad and the Weird.

Another interesting film to be screened is the anthology movie Tokyo with three segments directed by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon Ho.

I have my tickets for The Good the Bad and the Weird and Tokyo, AFI doesn’t announce if the filmamkers are going to be present, but in many cases they are which is a really cool added bonus (in 2006 I saw Bong presenting The Host).

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~ by bettertomorrow on October 15, 2008.

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