Film: Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon (Choejongbyungki Hwal / 최종병기 활)
Alternative Title: War Of The Arrows [화살표의 전쟁]
Director (& Writer): Kim Han-Min
Venue: The May Fair, London
Running time: 122 minutes
Plus Q & A
Other Info: Special advanced preview
Further Info: Opening Film for LKFF (London Korean Film Festival)
[Note: It was thought appropriate to abridge Mini Mini’s original review to include various updates, including this film’s recent accolades, festivals, mention of this title (and it’s extras) coming to DVD, as well as any other points on which it was felt required a little tweak]
Film Festivals Include:
2011 (16th) Busan International Film Festival
2011 (6th) The London Korean Film Festival
2012 (14th) Deauville Asian Film Festival
2012 (28th) Imagine: Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival
Film Awards Include:
2011 (48th) Daejong Film Awards
Best Actor (Park Hae-Il)
Best New Actress (Moon Chae-Won)
Best Visual Effects
Best Sound Effects
2011 (31th) Critics Choice Awards
Best Technical Achievement
2011 (32nd) Blue Dragon Film Awards
Best Actor (Park Hae-Il)
Best Supporting Actor (Ryoo Seung-Ryong)
Best New Actress (Moon Chae-Won)
Best Technical Award
Audience Choice Award for Most Popular Movie
2011 (19th) Korean Culture Entertainment Awards
Grand Acting Award (Park Hae-Il)
Best Acting Award (Ryoo Seung-Ryong)
Excellent Acting Award (Moon Chae-Won)
And the not-so…
… Excellent Reviewing Award (Mini Mini Movie)…
… Well, it’s represented below.
Yes. The opening of this virtual envelope begins here:
With my freshly collected Press Pack and goodie bag (including a “War Of The Arrows” t-shirt) at my feet, it was time for me to bow down for director Kim as he took to the stage, to introduce this Korean box-office-smash of a movie.
However, the question to ask myself, if approaching Kim… is “Do I take a bow?” [as in bow & curtsy] or “Do I take a bow?” [as in bow & arrow].
We start with some ‘Slow-mo Beginning’ shots. Seen it all before? Maybe, but not in this style.
There’s a girl, whom due to circumstances occuring with the Manchu and their latest invasion of South Korea, must leave her known life. This is essentially the life she knows with her father. Amongst all these invasions the girl is forced to be almost adopted by her very close relation [played by…]. The conditions under how this happens are painful to the involved characters, albeit feelings and scenes we’ve experienced in other movies. Many of them.
Next… A marriage proposal. But whom to whom? Well, either way, a very familiar and tried & tested situation is upon us. Indeed, the father of the girl insists that she will NOT marry the proposee… Unless… Wait for it… Mr Right meets certain demands. What would these be? Well, in a film based around wars and fighting surely it would be by some kind of duel.
Mini mini was sitting there thinking why such demands, and therefore duels have to ensue to allow any loving relationship to start? Is it to prove that one is a real man? A protector? I mean, we’ve seen this so many times in films, even if it is true of it’s time or era.
But, just when the predictable was appearing before my eyes in the obligatory fight scene, a shocking or even sickening change of events occurred. This was indeed unpredictable. But… my lips are sealed – perhaps it would have been better if one of these two fighter’s lips had also remained closed… That’s all I’m saying.
“Why is there all this war?” I hear you (war)cry. Well, as I mentioned before, essentially it’s an overall battle against the Manchu. And, you know what? I found it ironic that what with this being about battles within South Korea and against the Manchu & having seen another seminal Korean war-related film recently, that two familiar words should resound with me, as they are shouted at one point in the movie. “Freedom”; “Hurrah” we hear. Ironic? Yes, because the seminal film celebrating the Korean war (albeit against the Japanese not the Chinese Manchu) was recently viewed by yours truly. That film? “Hurrah! For Freedom”… of course [Review up soon].
Throw in a tiger and you have all the markings of a modern made, historical epic. This is no Gladiator though, and I’m actually happy it’s not. For a start it doesn’t have Ridley Scott’s speedy editing [or Riditing, as I like to call it]. Yes, it has some fast editing but not a great deal and not to Scott’s extreme.
This maybe because it’s not essentially about sword fights or samurai-sword fights. No, this is about the bow and arrow, or as the director later mentioned, the Arrow & Bow.
When the arrow shots, and therefore the majority of mini battles are upon us we witness other kinds of (film) shots. Are these ‘shots’ [literally, either way] made of real arrow firing or special effects? Either way, they look and sound spectacular. In fact, much has been said about it’s great use of sound.
The cinematography should also be gently applauded, as it does shine on the big screen…whether this be in landscapes or even in the characters’ clothing.
And so what if it a tad veers into Mission Impossible territory near the end, it’s great to see South Korea’s chance to shine, both historically and with such unique weaponry.
Yes, this is not about the fastest gunman in the west but arrowman in the east… And, sure it’s as formulaic as the-no-doubt-to-be-slightly-compared-with “Robin Hood” variations out there, but stylish. It’s a tense movie also, almost all the way through.
Take a Bow, director Kim… that’s Bow, not Bow…. Oh you know what I mean…!
Director Q & A:
Amongst questions covered – the answers to which are perhaps too involved to include also – was ons about the use of sound and another regarding how much of the film was based on ‘true’ events.
Further points were raised about how different this is from Kim’s other films and a good question was brought up about a line in the film, concerning the arrow being ‘not for killing’.
Almost lastly, but hardly least…
For DVD fans in the UK and fanatics of behind the scene detail, I would recommend checking out the extras on the Cine Asia* release.
- Aiming for the Bullseye: an interview with director, Kim Han-min (Cine Asia Exclusive) [This is really good – pretty much a whole 30 minutes of the director explaining the film… Insightful and delightful.]
- Behind the Scenes
- Making of
- 2 Trailers – UK Trailer and Original trailer [I prefer the original, incidentally]
- Audio Commentary by Bey Logan
*Cine Asia is a part of the Showbox Media Group
A Mini Mini (Music) Movie (i.e. Trailer)
Penultimately, “Shoot That Poison Arrow” [well, the official UK Trailer]:
Lastly… “Arrow: The Ultimate Music Video” (well, Mini Mini was feeling musical and this gives a good feel for the scenes in the film)…: