Starring : Choi Min-soo,Cho Jae-hun
Directed By: Kim Ui-Seok
Sword in the Moon
South Korean style Wuxia films are quite common now ,back in 2003 the amount of this style of film where not as ready at hand in the Korean market, and even more so in the West.
What I have here is the region 2 release of ''Sword in the Moon'' directed by Kim Ui-Seok and starring Choi Min-soo and Cho Jae-hyun in the lead roles.
The film set in the Josen Dynasty and starts with a assassination attempt on the King , at the heart of protecting the King is Gyu-yup ( Cho Jae-hyun) , head of the kings security and leader of the troop protecting him.
Now Gyu-yup is quite a cold hearted leader and is known amongst his men as the The Butcher.
Now with the Kings life saved the assassins turn their attentions to a group of Political officials. In turn each of these men are slain in quite a grotesque manner. Some beheaded and others being hanged and having their intestines ripped out of them.
On one assassination attempt it is evident that not one but two assassins are at work ,one dressed as a ninja and another of a long silver haired man wearing a large straw hat.
It's when Gyu-yup happens upon this strange man that you realise that they know each other. Letting the man go Gyu-yup returns to camp .
Now it is said along with the King and a group of officials are responsible for many deaths when they came into power. It seems that the officials being slain are the culprits behind this very deed.
All they can do is lay in wait , meanwhile our Long haired man seems distant from the young girl ( Si-Young) who tags along with him ,after drugging her he leaves to exact his vengeance on the government officials, unknown to him Si -Young awakens and goes to help .
When Si-Young gets captured outside the gates of her intended target by Gyu-yup .it again becomes apparent that Gyu-yup knows this Ninja clad girl .
By now I'm thinking this Gyu-Yup is not a nice man ,and to be honest I'm just not connecting with his character. .
Now Si Young is tortured with Gyu-yuo present ,he orders the guards to stop at the precise moment that our Long haired assassin arrives in disguise to rescue the young girl . .
Now I'm thinking that all these soldiers should be slain by this guy ,but we don't get to see what happens ,but only the end result of the guards slain bodies, of course Gyu-yup had left while this deed went on . It's also around now that we get the full story via flash back , The long haired man is Choi Ji-hwan (Choi Min-soo) a elite swordsman at the Clear Wind Shining Moon Sword School along with Gyu-Yup who is also a resident of the school and also one of it's greatest swordsman , Si Young is the daughter of the Schools head and General .
The school teaches the way of the sword and the way of peace , once trained the students will be divided ,some will stay and protect the school while others will go of to serve the King .
But some time after when a rebellion breaks out and the Master of the school refuses to join forces to help ,as he feels peace and talk are the answers to the countries problems and not violence , now this is seen as treason and the troops assigned the job of taking the school is Gyu-yup's unit.
Arriving at the school the soldiers attack , Gyu-yup is forced to attack and behead is own master or risk the lives of his own men ( all of which where students of the school) after beheading his master he fights the remaining students including Ji-Hwan ,who he believes he kills ,( now that's a way to treat your best friend) , the King knows he has Gyu-yup in his palms and uses him to full effect.
Back to present day Ji-Hwan who has recued Si Young and nursed her wounds plans his own attack on the King .
Meanwhile Gyu-Yup is having problems sleeping and his men are disillusioned at having to live such a evil life of violence .
When Ji-Hwan attacks the King and his troop in a attempt to assassinate him he is sidetracked by Si Young who once again turns up to exact her own revenge for her father. But when Gyu-yup turns up during the battle to find Si Young lying on the floor and his friend Ji-Hwan so badly injured he makes a decision to ask for mercy from the King in a bid to gain the upper hand by getting close to the King ,the film ends with our two swordsman in a freeze frame at loggerheads with the King s Guard.
Confused? you should be , My main problem with this film is the focus on the character of Gyu-yup as this hero of the film when in fact the focus should have been on Ji-Hwan . If the film would have started out with the story of Ji-Hwan and his internment at the school ,finding a new friend and his romantic interaction with the masters daughter it would have offered a more emotional ride, Especially when he is betrayed by his friend Gyu-Yup and inadvertently saved by him in the future.
The focus should have been on the revenge side ,it's like their trying to make you root for the wrong side ,though in war how do you decide right side ,wrong side?
For most part the film left me cold with no attachment to the characters , until the end where I felt that Ji-Hwan and Si-Young should have had justice.
Maybe if I had seen this in 2003 I may have thought otherwise ,but around that time we had films like Bichumoo around and Hong Kong where producing many Wuxia style films.
Now of course we are spoiled with these type of films from Korea with the likes of ''War of Arrows'', Blades of Blood'' and Detective K''.
The characters are well played here though ,and Choi Min-soo ( My Wife is a Gangster 3) and Cho Jae-hun ( The Kick) do a good job here, maybe the director got it wrong in the emotion stakes here, concentrating on the grotesque ways of death and using some very fast editing on the fight scenes.
Cho Jae-hun has recently been back in the lime light after playing the father figure in the Korean /Thai production of the film The Kick ,which I feel was a great role for him. As for Choi Min-soo it's not so rosy after 2008 he has not starred in anything after ending up in a traffic altercation and beating up a elderly man, he even reportedly left his wife and child for a year to live in the wilderness alone to ashamed to face anyone, it also meant his film career was over after fans and film companies don't want to be associated with such acts.
Hell it's been four years now ,give the man a break ,look at how the American Stars play up ,do they go live in the Mountains .no bring back Choi Min-soo.
Of note** the region 2 release of the film has some problems in the speedier edited scenes with screen distortion ,quite a surprise for a film released from Tarten films . So if your viewing that release then take a point of the score for that...
Score out of Ten = 6
Review Date : November 30th 2012
|Directed by||Kim Ui-seok|
|Written by||Min-seok Jang|
|Starring||Choi Min-soo |
|Music by||Lee Gyeong-seop|
|Distributed by||Sinabro Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||16 July 2003|
|Running time||102 minutes|