Friday, October 14, 2016

Movie Review #501: "The Age of Shadows" (2016)

Movie"The Age of Shadows"
Director: Jee-woon Kim
Rating: NR
Running Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
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A Korean police officer working for the Japanese Imperial police is tasked with uncovering the underground Korean resistance.

"The Age of Shadows" is a dramatic spy thriller written and directed by Jee-woon Kim. The film is a fictional story surrounding true historical events during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1920's. It stars Kang-ho Song as Lee Jung-Chool, a Korean man who works for the Japanese Imperial police. His job is to infiltrate the Korean resistance and uncover their leadership in order to prevent any future attacks. Lee Jung-Chool is a man who has risen through the ranks after being an interpreter for the resistance. Though reluctant faith is placed in him to infiltrate those he seemingly used to favor, he may not be as loyal to the Japanese Imperial police as they think he is, or maybe he is as loyal as they think he is and he's simply playing the long game to uncover the plans of the resistance.

This is an intriguing film with many spectacular moments of tension and suspense fused with a deeply dramatic story of war, secrets, and trust. There are rats and moles everywhere on both sides of the war, each giving information to the opposition. This tension erupts in bouts of stirring, exciting action and violence that will put you on the edge of your seat. It is brilliantly acted from all involved. Kang-ho Song is fantastic as an undercover cop who is torn between loyalty to his country and his duty to the occupying government that controls it. We see the strain and anguish on his face as he tries to decide, ultimately, is it worth risking his life and committing treason against Imperial Japan in order for him to fight for what he believes very well could be a losing cause? Also putting on an engaging and equally excellent performance is Yoo Gong, who we have never seen act before, but after seeing him in this film, we're on a quest to track down all of his works. He is tremendous here as Kim Woo-Jin, one of the most active participants in the resistance fight for independence and freedom for Korea. He is charismatic and charming, even under pressure. Also joining them are Byung-hun Lee as resistance leader Jung Chae-San (in a more limited role), and Ji-min Han as Yun Gye-Soon as one of the principal members of the Korean resistance.

In the end, "The Age of Shadows" is a worthy choice for South Korea's foreign language submission to the Oscars for next year. This is an intense, violent, smart war thriller that seamlessly blends the human drama and the choice between right and wrong with the brutal but accurate struggles of war. This is a fantastic film for those who love to see what other countries have to offer at the cinema.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie:  Yes!

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