Korean film written and directed by Kim Young-Jun. Broiling melodrama with gorgeous art direction. In my imagination the scriptwriters for this film had been reading lots of Barbara Cartland and the fight choreographers had been watching lots of Yuen Wu Ping.
I must take care not to be too facetious – I did enjoy this film and teared up at the appropriate moments. The film is propelled forward from 1 gorgeous looking scene to another with lots and lots of action. The script is actually quite minimal and the main impact comes from the visual – the stunning costumes, sets and location, lots of close ups of emotive actors, lots of whiz bang fight choreography. If you look closely the plot is full of holes you could drive a train through and many events in the film just happen with very little explanation or set up (e.g., characters are seen to be in THIS location in 1 scene and then in the very next pop up in another location that is miles away with no explanation as to how they got there or why they knew they had to be there). But the pace, and the visual and emotional impact of the film is such that I simply don’t care. I have noticed this a lot in martial arts films – they don’t let narrative cohesiveness, historical accuracy, densely written text or verbal character explication get in the way of a good movie. This is quite different to a lot of western films (talk, talk, talk, talk, TALK) and some western viewers I personally know see this as a weakness or sign of inferiority in kung fu films. But I don’t think it is. I think these films construct a flow of scenes where each set of visual images or action scenes flows organically into the next – the films have a visual and emotional logic that is satisfying and compelling.