I wouldn't have known about this movie if I wasn't an Amazondotcommer. I found it in one of those, "if you bought this DVD, you'd want to buy this too" follow-ups. So I thought I'd click on it and was surprise to see that it was a South Korean movie. I have never seen a Korean movie before, so I decided to order the DVD with high expectations due to the good reviews of fellow Amazoners. And you know what, I wasn't dissappointed at all. This movie is terrific. It has all the elements of an "edge-of-your-seat" adventure: love, honour, bravery, conflict, vast sceneries and loads and loads of testestorone driven battle scenes. What's not to like about this movie. Compare it all you want to other similiar Hollywood movies until the sun goes down, at the end, it is movie in itself. No trace of Hollywood here. It has a subtlety that is unique. This is evident in the numerous sub-plots. The kidnapped Ming princess is obviously smittened by the spear wielding, ex slave, Yeosol and he in return is equally enamoured, but these asumptions are only culled from certain gestures, a word spoken here and there and yet their love for each other is so palpable. And how about the young general, Choi. His reason for saving the princess as he tells it to his men, is a ticket out of China. Yeah, right. The second that a breeze lifts the Princess's veil and he was able to see her stuning porcelain face, is the moment he decided to save her. Imagine these two good looking, verile men fighting to the death just for her. Just enough to make a girl swone. This movie is full of little gems like this.
The movie is also full of interesting characters like the Yuan General(Yu Ruan Goung from "Iron Monkey"), the archery expert, Sergeant Jinlip, the cowardly novice, Douchong and they even managed to throw in a pregnant peasant.
The movie moves swiftly with no slow parts, and though it is very gory, (everything gets lopped-off including the horses, guess they don't have PETA over there in Korea) I think the bloody scenes are not gratitious and thye are well justified.
My favorite thing about this movie is how the three characters relate to each other and how in very little words and gestures, are able to convey the essence of who they are. And as the events unfold to its tragic end, you can see that each have resolve their own fears even if it means their demise.
The 130 minutes didn't feel long and if anything, I hated for this movie to end. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My only complain is that this DVD has NO EXTRAS at all. It is handsomely packaged but NO EXTRAS. would have been nice. But thank god, it's not dubbed.