The Age of Shadows

2016

Action  Drama  Thriller  

Synopsis


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April 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Director

Cast

Byung-hun Lee as Jung Chae-San
Kang-ho Song as Lee Jung-Chool
720p 1080p
1.02 GB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 20 min
P/S 141 / 936
2.15 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 20 min
P/S 111 / 776

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by cdcrb 9 / 10

espionage thriller

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by kluseba 9 / 10

Pales in comparison to Choi Dong-hoon's "Assassination"

"The Age of Shadows" is a historically inspired dramatic action-thriller about a group of Korean resistance fighters who are opposing the peninsula's Japanese occupation. Directed and written by creative mastermind Kim Jee-won and starring South Korean top actors like Lee Byung-hun, this epic film became South Korea's official submission for the "Best Foreign Language Film" category of the 89th Academy Awards in 2017. While the premises seemed to be very positive, I was slightly disappointed by the movie.First of all, a much better movie with a very similar story line called "Assassination" was released only one year earlier and it beats this flick in terms of acting, pace, settings and story. It's quite difficult to identify with the main character in "The Age of Shadow" who constantly changes sides and doesn't seem to know what he believes in. Instead of portraying a man torn between two choices, the movie focuses on a rather antipathic and egoistic character who is thinking about his own advantage at all times. Even an outstanding actor like Song Kang-ho can't make this dull main character any more exciting."The Age of Shadow" starts with an explosive opening scene only to lead towards a lengthy introduction with endless dialogues and numerous characters. It takes close to one hour before the pace quickens up again. The first half of the movie is definitely too long and often lost my interest.While the settings of the movie are very realistic and bring to life a genuine depiction of the Korean peninsula in the forties, the costumes and locations aren't as detailed and memorable as in many other South Korean high-quality productions.The story remains somewhat shallow in my opinion. It's obvious that the members of the resistance are trying to attack the Japanese occupants but the film never really explains what they are organizing precisely. It's quite unsatisfying to realize that the resistance's charismatic leader is taking many risks by trusting a highly unreliable main character and personally organizing an attack against the enemy that is never ever specified. The ending also leaves many questions open and feels unfinished to me.Despite these flaws, the movie also has many strong points. The side characters are portrayed excellently and add some depth to the movie. Especially the clever villain portrayed by Um Tae-goo is very creepy. The movie also convinces in its more intense passages. The opening scene is both dynamic and memorable. The climax on the train is very tense and will get you on the edge of your seat. The last thirty minutes of the film have a welcome dramatic and emotional touch. The settings are authentic and especially the scenes on the train, in different torture chambers and in the prison are beautifully crafted and provide a gripping and sinister atmosphere. While the story is maybe the movie's biggest flaw, it still requests some thinking from the audience and includes a few minor twists in the second half of the film that save this movie for me.Maybe my rating would be slightly more generous if the excellent "Assassination" hadn't been released a year earlier. That film's excellent execution from any point of view makes "The Age of Shadows" look quite predictable, redundant and even unnecessary. Faithful fans of contemporary South Korean cinema should still watch both movies but I would only recommend "Assassination" to occasional international audiences. "The Age of Shadows" really pales in comparison to Choi Dong-hoon's "Assassination". On a closing note, South Korea should have chosen the outstanding horror film "The Wailing" as official submission for the "Best Foreign Language Film" category of the 89th Academy Awards in 2017.

Reviewed by Mek Torres 9 / 10

Enjoyably Thrilling

Well, that was a lot of fun. The Age of Shadows is a spy thriller that is basically a ticking bomb and once things go wrong, it just gets brutal and chaotic. The set up for these characters and their plot is well put together enough to be engrossing. And the set pieces are just excitingly executed. The film is unafraid of showing something terrible from their consequences. Though there is one point at the third act where I wished the film had ended. It gets to feel a little too long as it goes on, but man, the train sequence alone is one hell of an exercise for suspense. The production is also too impressive and the acting is quite engaging. Overall, it's a dark and brutal, yet quite an edge of your seat cinematic thrill ride.

Reviewed by MisterWhiplash 9 / 10

taut and intense, bloody and heartfelt but also unsentimental

I have to wonder if director Kim Jee-Woon titled this film in some part after the Melville WW2 film Army of Shadows. This isn't to get all movie trivia on you all, rather it's to make a small point about how Jee-Woon is doing two things in The Age of Shadows and doing them well: making a sort of homage to films about resistance movements and espionage during wartime (in a way this makes this a war film, but the front-lines are often with a few people behind closed doors, or trying to find people on a train who are incognito, or sides being reversed, with torture on the table for the side with power to those captured), and at the same time it's Jee-Woon making a film about his own country's history, when Korea was occupied by Japan, which adds a personal dimension to it.While I'm sure if I was Korean I would have more of a connection to it - I actually didn't know as much about this history as I thought - knowing about other resistance and underground movements against occupying powers (and another film that comes to mind outside of Melville's film, which is much darker than this, is Inglourious Basterds) makes the drama palpable. Oh, and the actual conflicts and character dynamics pop every possible moments. It's a story about loyalty and honor, but also how difficult that really is: the point of view is mostly from Song Kang-Ho (remember him from Snowpiercer and The Host and other films by Bong Joon-Ho?), a Korean born officer for the Japanese police who was one years before part of the resistance against Japan, but has now gone to the side of conformity. But people underground, including Kim Woo-Jin who is wanted by the top Japanese police brass, see some potential in Hang-Ho's character, the conflict in him deep down, and look to "open his heart" to turn for them. Partially.This is a complex film, and I'm sure on a first screening a few plot points here and there or little scenes made it so that I'm also sure a second screening might clear up a few things (it's a long film too at 140 minutes, not unlike Army of Shadows, so it's kind of dense viewing - not a bad thing, just what it is). In this complexity the filmmaker, who also is the writer, finds a lot of strong thematic connections, how we as the audience can fill in the gaps that might be questioning on how or why characters decide to do things, the journey for Lee Jung-Chool as alright cop to gray-area level traitor, and it doesn't shy away from gruesome details and moments. It doesn't dwell on things like the torture scenes, when resistance fighters who are captured and given burning skewers or ripped-off finger-nails, but it's important to show enough of that so it impacts certain characters. At the same time the violence is brutal but cut quick (not too quick, of course), which also brings back to mind Basterds.What I mean to say going back to 'complex' is that you have to pay attention to it (you look at your phone while watching this for a second and you'll miss something, put it away, it's not that kind of movie - aside from that you'll miss the often exquisite filmmaking and those moments where the screws tighten like that entire sequence on the train that makes up a 20 minute chunk midway through). It treats its audience like adults who can take some very hard decisions from characters, and also how subtle cues can alert people to things, and yet at the same time there's even some humor here and there. When the main resistance guy gets introduced to Lee Jung-Chool, the way to make things a little less, uh, 'tense' is to go through an entire barrel of liquor. How this one minute of film is cut together, showing drink after drink tumbled down until the barrel is empty, is one of the funniest things this year - but, again, subtle-funny. It's more about character than anything else.This is at times a rough film, its twists and turns confronting your expectations and making you question what's going to come next, and other times bleak and depressing. But it all leads up to a place that is phenomenal in terms of its dramatic arc and how the director builds up the kind of palpable suspense that shows he's watched his share of The Godfather a thousand times (but he makes it his own, it's not aped to annoyance). He's so assured that he goes past being one of the most skillful directors in Korea right now; The Age of Shadows confirms after massively entertaining and incredibly dark efforts like The Good, the Bad, the Weird and I Saw the Devil as basically someone in the entire WORLD that should be cherished. This is a remarkable film, and one of the better, more harrowing efforts of 2016.

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