7:30 PM, 23rd June, 2017
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA
2016 was a great year for South Korean movies. Of particular note were the best zombie movie ever made, Train To Busan (screened at the ANUFG last semester), and Park Chan-Wook’s masterful bonkers sexy period piece The Handmaiden (if you get a chance to see it, do so – it was my runner-up Best Film of 2016).
The Age of Shadows also contributed to the banner year. It was South Korea’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race and, whilst it didn’t make the shortlist, it is a fun, pulse-quickening spy yarn worth seeing.
Exploring a dark period in Korea’s past, The Age of Shadows is set in the 1920s, when Korea was under Japanese rule. A resistance movement is building with plans to execute a special mission. But the fight for independence will be hard-won as the Japanese police force, in particular Captain Lee Jung-chool, is intent on keeping them silenced.
The cat-and-mouse game that ensues is as good as any James Bond movie, or maybe even Inglourious Basterds. There are several heart-stoppingly tense action sequences (one on a train in particular). The production values are impeccable, and the performances are solid. It doesn’t even matter if you can’t keep up with every plot development (I found it confusing at times), as this is pure escapist enjoyment in the tradition of the best Hollywood action films.