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Author Topic: Korean Noir:The Age of Shadows (2016)  (Read 22 times)
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« on: November 20, 2017, 08:29:19 PM »

R2 DVD from Amazon UK. 10

"The early bird gets caught."

* This review may contain spoilers ***

Getting the chance to host the ICM film festival for the second time,I took a look at the titles set for festival viewing. Recently watching his magnificent 2003 Horror A Tale of Two Sisters,I was absolutely thrilled to see Kim Jee-woon's latest in the listings,which led to me stepping into the shadows.

The plot-

1920's Korea:

Under Occupation from the Japanese,a Resistance movement starts building underground to overthrow the invaders from Korea. Wanting to root out troublemakers, the Japanese order Korean police captain Lee Jung-chool to track down members of the Resistance. Known for doing deals to stay on the safe side of the Occupiers,Chool is hit by the death of Resistance member Kim Jan-OK,who used to be a school friend. Learning of Jan-OK's murder weighing heavy on Chool, Resistance leader Che-san begins attempting to turn Chool to their side,as the Resistance start planning a major fightback,by making bombs in the shadows.

View on the film:

Unleashing his first period piece, co-writer/(with Ji-min Lee/ Jong- dae Park and Kathy Pilon) director Kim Jee-woon & cinematographer Kim Ji-yong create an immaculate presentation,with dazzling crane shots gliding along the rich primary colours covering the corridors of the ruling Japanese,Jee-woon sends coiled shots down the drenched in fog streets,where Resistance fighters are attempting to walk down unnoticed. Retaining the eye he had in examining the psychological horror in A Tale of Two Sisters, (with the torture that the Resistance fighters suffer being bloody and blunt,as tightly-held close-ups reveal their resistance to giving secrets away) Jee-woon brilliantly expands his psychological examination into Neo-Noir, where this age of shadows is lit with beautiful panel shots and elegant low-lighting capturing the anxiety of being caught,that the Resistance is under.

Following the Resistance's plan of attack at every stage of inception, Jee-Woon and Ji-Yong uncover griping Neo- Noir set-pieces such as a 20 minute train journey,set alight by Jee- Woon's ultra-stylised tracking weaving between Resistance fighters hiding with the passengers,and the mighty fist of the police walking down each carriage in long takes of them trying to sniff out the rebels.Giving them not only the Occupiers,but fears of betrayal within their own group to fight against, the screenplay by Jee-woon/Ji- Min / Jong-dae and Kathy Pilon sharply turn the screws of Noir pressure on the gang, via every move to bring Chool closer to the group being drenched in anxiety. Making the 2 and a half run time feel like nothing, the writers bravely show little concern over Chool (played by a superb Song Kang-ho) being likable,as any help he offers to the Resistance is balanced with sudden outbursts of brutality that explode into a pitch-black ending of deep Film Noir pessimism,where Chool sets alight the age of shadows.

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