The Age of Shadows

2016

Action / Drama / Thriller

31
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 83%
IMDb Rating 7.3 10 1465

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Byung-hun Lee as Jung Chae-San
Kang-ho Song as Lee Jung-Chool
720p 1080p
1.02 GB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 20 min
P/S 548 / 1,485
2.15 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 20 min
P/S 404 / 1,205

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by alexdeleonfilm 10 / 10

So much in this film it feels like watching a Beethoven Symphony!

Mil Jeong (밀정 ~ The Age of Shadows).

Viewed at 2016 Venice FilmFestival. Tremendous Korean epochal drama about life and resistance under the oppressive Japanese occupation in the early decades of the century. Director Kim Jaewoon really knows how to set up drama and suspense mixed with blazing action. There was so much in this film that I felt like I was watching a Beethoven symphony. Dark Sepia toned photography used to good effect enhances period feel. Musical soundtrack employs jazz and adrenaline tensor stretches and the final shootout in the train station is orchestrated deftly to Ravel's Bolero.

139' running time is long and winds up with several anticlimactic codas but never lets you out if its grip. For Koreans this is clearly a film with heavy patriotic messages. The final theme is "Don't let your failures stop you -- build on them and rise to the next level" -- until victory is achieved. I would love to see this film with a Korean audience and would expect to see people on their feet cheering at the end... A young Italian I met afterwards said he loved it even though he knows nothing of the history involved. I could easily see why -- in a way this is something like a Kimchee spaghetti western and charismatic actor Kang-ho Song, 49, has got to be the Korean equivalent of John Wayne, or at least, Robert Mitchum.

Reviewed by MisterWhiplash 9 / 10

taut and intense, bloody and heartfelt but also unsentimental

I have to wonder if director Kim Jee-Woon titled this film in some part after the Melville WW2 film Army of Shadows. This isn't to get all movie trivia on you all, rather it's to make a small point about how Jee-Woon is doing two things in The Age of Shadows and doing them well: making a sort of homage to films about resistance movements and espionage during wartime (in a way this makes this a war film, but the front-lines are often with a few people behind closed doors, or trying to find people on a train who are incognito, or sides being reversed, with torture on the table for the side with power to those captured), and at the same time it's Jee-Woon making a film about his own country's history, when Korea was occupied by Japan, which adds a personal dimension to it.

While I'm sure if I was Korean I would have more of a connection to it - I actually didn't know as much about this history as I thought - knowing about other resistance and underground movements against occupying powers (and another film that comes to mind outside of Melville's film, which is much darker than this, is Inglourious Basterds) makes the drama palpable. Oh, and the actual conflicts and character dynamics pop every possible moments. It's a story about loyalty and honor, but also how difficult that really is: the point of view is mostly from Song Kang-Ho (remember him from Snowpiercer and The Host and other films by Bong Joon-Ho?), a Korean born officer for the Japanese police who was one years before part of the resistance against Japan, but has now gone to the side of conformity. But people underground, including Kim Woo-Jin who is wanted by the top Japanese police brass, see some potential in Hang-Ho's character, the conflict in him deep down, and look to "open his heart" to turn for them. Partially.

This is a complex film, and I'm sure on a first screening a few plot points here and there or little scenes made it so that I'm also sure a second screening might clear up a few things (it's a long film too at 140 minutes, not unlike Army of Shadows, so it's kind of dense viewing - not a bad thing, just what it is). In this complexity the filmmaker, who also is the writer, finds a lot of strong thematic connections, how we as the audience can fill in the gaps that might be questioning on how or why characters decide to do things, the journey for Lee Jung-Chool as alright cop to gray-area level traitor, and it doesn't shy away from gruesome details and moments. It doesn't dwell on things like the torture scenes, when resistance fighters who are captured and given burning skewers or ripped-off finger-nails, but it's important to show enough of that so it impacts certain characters. At the same time the violence is brutal but cut quick (not too quick, of course), which also brings back to mind Basterds.

What I mean to say going back to 'complex' is that you have to pay attention to it (you look at your phone while watching this for a second and you'll miss something, put it away, it's not that kind of movie - aside from that you'll miss the often exquisite filmmaking and those moments where the screws tighten like that entire sequence on the train that makes up a 20 minute chunk midway through). It treats its audience like adults who can take some very hard decisions from characters, and also how subtle cues can alert people to things, and yet at the same time there's even some humor here and there. When the main resistance guy gets introduced to Lee Jung-Chool, the way to make things a little less, uh, 'tense' is to go through an entire barrel of liquor. How this one minute of film is cut together, showing drink after drink tumbled down until the barrel is empty, is one of the funniest things this year - but, again, subtle-funny. It's more about character than anything else.

This is at times a rough film, its twists and turns confronting your expectations and making you question what's going to come next, and other times bleak and depressing. But it all leads up to a place that is phenomenal in terms of its dramatic arc and how the director builds up the kind of palpable suspense that shows he's watched his share of The Godfather a thousand times (but he makes it his own, it's not aped to annoyance). He's so assured that he goes past being one of the most skillful directors in Korea right now; The Age of Shadows confirms after massively entertaining and incredibly dark efforts like The Good, the Bad, the Weird and I Saw the Devil as basically someone in the entire WORLD that should be cherished. This is a remarkable film, and one of the better, more harrowing efforts of 2016.

Reviewed by cdcrb 8 / 10

Enjoyably Thrilling

when the warner bros. logo came up all I could think about was bette davis and those four sound stages she built for the studio. why warner b ros. is involved with this is beyond me, but it is the perfect studio to produce a film like this. it' the 1920's and the Korean resistance is fighting to get the Japanese out. there are the usual good guys, very gad guys , femme fatales and conflicted ideals. kim jee woon is the director and apparently he is known for his action sequences. he does not disappoint here. the opening is almost a ballet on roof tops (no, don't flee the theatre) and there is a long running train scene that's edge of your seat fun. OK, so it's very standard 40's noir, but it's in color and the cinematography is spectacular. although it's a Korean film, it sure has a Hollywood feel to it. it's just classy. and without offense, meant, it's really not a very Korean movie. I really enjoyed it.

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