Film Review: Age of Shadows

The annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) was held in October. The Fifth Parlour was in Busan to check out the films shortlisted by the panel of judges from around the world. A selection of films ranging from short films, documentaries and experimental works were screened simultaneously among the various box offices within the Busan International Film district. This include cinema halls in shopping centres, a university hall and the Busan Cinema Center.

A local produced film, Apprentice by Boo Jun Feng was one of the winners during the award ceremony. The Lasalle College of the Arts alumni made Singapore proud by achieving the Rising Director Award.

I had the opportunity to catch Age of Shadows. A movie that is inspired by true eventsan action thriller directed by Kim Jee Won.

The movie depicts the setbacks and tactical skills of the Korean underground movement, Euiyeoldan during the Japanese rule of Korea in the 1920s. The members were made up of middle class working professionals who were fighting for a similar cause. The plan was assisted by the Lee Jung-chool, a Korean officer working for the Japanese administration. He is torn between loyalty to his country and betrayal to the Japanese rule. Kim Woo-jin, who opens an antique shop along side his brother meets Lee Jung-Chool. On the road to independence, the duo together with others travel to Seoul on train to smuggle explosives from Shanghai. The aim was to blow up the Japanese General Government Building.

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Credits: hancinema.net

I would personally give it 4 out 5 stars for this film. It is interesting to see the versatility of actors such as the suave Gong Yoo (Train to Busan) who plays the character of Kim Woo-jin. Lee Byung Hun (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) who made a cameo as the supreme leader of the Euiyeoldan. The east-meets-west culture is very much unique in Asia. Being a fan of historical factual and fiction films, I sincerely enjoyed the film. The climax of the entire film would be the train ride to Seoul, the desperation, deceit and suspense that succumbs to betrayal.

The film is well received in South Korea topping the local box office multiple times. It is also the country’s entry for the upcoming 89th Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language film category. Busan International Film Festival is a stepping stone for many international and local films like the Age of Shadows to shine on the international stage.

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