Anarchists, The (2000) Review

"The Anarchists" Korean Theatrical Poster

"The Anarchists" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Yu Yeong-Sik
Writer: Park Chan-wook (Park Chan-uk), Lee Mu-Yeong
Cast: Jang Dong-Geon, Kim Sang-Jung, Jeong Jun-Ho, Lee Beom-Su, Kim In-Gweon, Ye Ji-Won, Jeong Won-Jung, Lee Chan-Yeong, Seo Ji-Won, Kim Gwang-Seok, ZHU Ying
Running Time: 108 min.

By Equinox21

When I heard that this movie was written by Park Chan-wook (writer and director of J.S.A. and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), I got really excited about seeing it. However, I then noticed the low rating it had on the Internet Movie Database, a 4/10, and started to mellow out about it a bit. When I finally watched it, without any expectations, I was pleasantly surprised.

The story revolves around an extreme leftist group of Koreans living in Shanghai in the 1920’s. They utilize the only tool they have at their disposal in an attempt to convince the Japanese to leave Korea, terrorism. The members are experts in guns, knives, disguise and other skills useful in pulling off the successful assassinations of Japanese military leaders and governmental officials in Shanghai. Through the course of the movie they must deal with love, death, betrayal, the risk of being caught and tortured, and much more.

What made this movie really good was the amazing production value. You really feel like you’re in 1924, on a large scale. You don’t just see a few buildings and a few costumes from the period, you see entire city blocks, a huge cruise liner, many vehicles, weapons, costumes, and music; everything that would fit perfectly in 1920’s Shanghai. Even the story, which more or less consisted of small encounters instead of one main plot line, fit perfectly into a world of pre-independent Korea and China. This was yet another Korean movie that took on the theme of Japanese occupation, and the heroes that struggle against them in an effort to end their reign in Korea and China.

There weren’t a whole lot of large action scenes in The Anarchists. However, there were a handful of short, quick action pieces. Some even utilize a small about of CGI in an extremely interesting way. One short piece in the beginning was when Han (Kim Sang Jung) wanted to show the new recruit, Sang-gu (Kim In-kwon), what the group could do and what they could teach him. A small amount of CGI is used as Lee Geun (Seong Jun-ho) tosses an apple into the air; Dol-sok (Lee Beom-su) throws a knife at it, impaling it and sticking it to a plank of wood. The split second it sticks into the wood, Seregay (Jang Dong-kun [Friend, 2009 Lost Memories]) shoots the apple and it explodes. ‘Twas very cool, indeed.

It’s not a bad movie at all, and in fact was pretty entertaining. I can’t figure out how the IMDB rating could be so low. The story wasn’t extremely moving but it was dramatic, and, thankfully, not obnoxiously so.

Equinox21’s Rating: 7/10

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