War of the arrowsWar of the arrowsWar of the arrows


War of the Arrows


South Korea


Kim Han-min




Park Hae-il, Ryu Seung-Ryong, Moon Chae-won


Colour 122 mins

The best archer in Korea has to fight Chinese invaders to rescue his sister. But if films had complicated plots they would be incomprehensible?

As the title might indicate there is a lot of archery in this film. Think a Wild West film with bows and arrows rather than guns. The set pieces are well choreographed and dramatic. There's a good range of action as the film sweeps around pleasant scenery. It's just about within the bounds of the possible rather than Jet Li flying through the air or a Colt 45 hitting the target miles away.

There are undertones to the film which probably mean more to Koreans than to me as a Westerner. Korea has been subject to its powerful neighbours over the years with much suffering. Crossing the Yalu River meant permanent exile at some periods in history. Perhaps in films the downtrodden can feel a little less downtrodden, or old wrongs can be righted.

In keeping with modern sensibilities the damsel in distress is not totally a a plot device, or passive doll. But necessarily the film focusses on the conflict between the Manchu army and the lone archer. It is entertaining escapism.