The Good The Bad And The Weird director Jee-woon Kim returns to the Korean film industry after the unfortunate flop of The Last Stand (seriously, it was great) and delivers one of his most ambitious features to date. A tale of Korean resistance fighters battling against the Japanese occupation, it’s a fast-paced, paranoid, violent, thrilling and gently political thriller that once again proves just how talented this guy is. While it’s a shame that his Hollywood adventure didn’t work out for Kim, if he makes films of this scale and quality at home, who cares?
Kang-ho Song (aka Mr. Vengeance) stars as a Korean detective working for the Japanese police assigned to hunt down freedom fighters. The only catch is that he actually sympathizes with the nationalists and is soon recruited to help the resistance from the inside. As we all know, working as a double agent in fraught times is a dangerous and deadly endeavour, so things get a little out of control. Jee-woon Kim nimbly balances thrills, political intrigue, and epic period details in a flurry of high-octane yet thoughtful entertainment.
Age Of Shadows moves like a runaway freight train, barely a second passes without some sort of paranoid suspense sequence or visceral explosion of action. As is his way, Kim balances his violent thrills with moral ambiguity and shock, so there’s always some guilt involved requiring contemplation of the carnage. Kang-ho Song delivers a mature and pained performance to hold it all together, backed by an equally strong supporting cast. The resulting film is somehow both a powerful slice of history fraught with contradictions and a giddy B-move designed to make audiences giggle with delight. It’s probably not Kim Jee-woon’s best film, but only because he’s made so many great ones. This would be the highlight of most filmmaker’s careers.
Saturday, September 17, 9:30pm, Princess Of Wales
Sunday, September 18, 3:00pm, Ryerson