Reviewed By-Paul Cooke
Director : Kim Young-Jun
Producer : Jung Tae-Won
Starring : Shin Hyun-Jun , Kim Hae-Sun & Jeong Jin-Young
Opening like a Ninja movie that you have walked in on half way through at the cinema complex ‘ Bichunmoo ’ will immediately convince you to sneak down low in your seat come the end of the film , in an attempt to elude the Obi Wan Kenobi torch wielding usher and just to see the movie once again for free. An awesome display of attention grabbing Ninja type fighting skills plays out a concerto of blade upon blade , to a beat that tinkers with your senses like a drummer playing on your skull with nunchakus. A lone figure stands tall and proud upon an approaching bamboo craft , drifting on the current toward land and a small army of awaiting warriors. The odds appear one sided until a sweeping camera shot reveals a stealthy band of black clad fighters just beneath the waters surface , and with an aggressive and attack of flighted arrows outward bound the Ninja like pack erupt from the stream to defend their stoic figurehead with a retaliatory strike that is steadfast and lethal. With torment etched across his expressionless face the nemesis of vengefulness strikes at the heart of the soldiers with an elemental power , dispensing its death blow through his sword and arresting all in its wake , before dealing the final mortal glance in bloody fashion to the astounded warlord.With salivation glands in monsoon mode this tale of epic proportion flicks back to an opening chapter to foretell the origins of this dispenser of vehemence , as a young man learning the fabled fighting art of Bichun. His skills are soon put to use in a very well realised sequence which introduces the youthful Yu Jinha to his soulmate Sullie , as she is set upon by a ravenous wolf that is dispensed of in unflinching fashion by the brave apprentice. So begins the parallel story of these star crossed lovers reminiscent in telling of the tale of Romeo and Juliet. As Yu Jinha fulfills his heritage in the art of Bichun his love for Sullie grows , along with his stature as a skilled martial artist and master of the way of the sword. The mystic elements that bind him to the Bichun attract the egoistic attentions of a powerful General , who also happens to be the father of Sullie , and with tyrannical dominion separates the devotees to then send his henchmen after the collective pages of the Bichun , as they seek out the clandestine art form with murderous intent.
What follows is a truly awesome fight sequence as Yu Jinha’s tutor protects the book in a sumptuously filmed sequence , highlighting the incredible cohesion of visually stunning fight choreography and action lensed accompaniment of the highest level. Yu Jinha stops the tome from falling into the hands of the transgressors but to the tragic detriment of his master , who’s last breath is given in handing over what he had given his life to protect. With the symbolic passing over of the Bichun to Yu Jinha comes the transition to manhood and the affirmation of his master status , imbued with a retaliatory reprisal toward the General that has far reaching consequences for those closest to him. On the road to requital he meets with a kindred man of honour and they become good friends until the realisation that their paths are ill fated as he is destined to be the son in law of the General , whom Yu Jinha seeks to kill as well as sharing the love of the same woman in Sullie.
The plot twists are as integral as the multitude of Action sequences in what may truly be defined as a modern day classic of epic proportions , that on a Hollywood budget could not possibly be achieved within the constraints of a hundred million dollar outlay. All the time honoured elements of honour and heroism are on display in a near perfect rendition of storybook to film transposition , unravelling before the entranced viewer like the turning of pages. The sheer magnitude in the depth of cinematography gives the surreal impression of a 3D quality , that at times will have you anticipating the involvement of the on screen Action actually spilling out into your living room.The on going love story by no means envelopes the film as the attention to the relentless fight sequences is breathtaking , not only in the sheer energy of the piece but also in the brutal full on exchange between the combatants. With a fair smattering of blood spirting from most body parts there are many moments to thrill and revel in. When Yu Jinha finally gets the opportunity to square off against the General it is a moment of ferocious altercation , taking place upon a bridge with a night backdrop , that again is deserving of the highest accolade for the manner in which it is shot , gives poignant contemplation to the designation of Death Toll Bridge.
The pulse pounding soundtrack is perfectly attuned to work harmoniously with a Dolby 5.1 sound system that further compliments the visual distinction , deftly honed by the skills of Director Young-jun Kim. There is so much quality behind this production that a detailed description of the entire film would detract from the viewing pleasure , that is best attained from all those seeking out this truly involving movie experience for themselves. The characterisation and plot development is as rewarding a participation you are likely to see this year , and further establishes the Korean film industry as one to follow with anticipated relish. If Ninja styled fight techniques, laced with some old school Shaw Brothers prestige and all the action you could want in one sitting along with a non overly slushy love story to fuel the emotions then , ‘ Bichunmoo ’ comes highly recommended and just the movie you should be looking for. Star Hyun-Joon Shin may possibly have the largest nose of any leading actor , but seems perfectly hand picked for the role , and come the end of the movie any ladies in the audience will be reaching for their hankies for a good long blow of the nasal passages.
Presentation : Widescreen Ratio 1:85:1 Release : Spectrum Coding : NTSC Region 3 Sound : DTS / Dolby Digital 5.1 Extras : Two Disc Special Edition / Cast & Crew Synopsis / Theatrical Trailer / Making Of The Film / CGI Clips / Original Movie Soundtrack / CGI Clips / 16:9 Enhanced
Film: 4.0 BITCH SLAPS Picture: 4.5 BITCH SLAPS Sound: 4.5 BITCH SLAPS Extras: 4.0 BITCH SLAPS Overall: 4.5 BITCH SLAPS