If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Ja-In (Moon Chae-Won) and Seo-Goon (Mu-Yeol Kim) hold their wedding on, unfortunately, the day that marks the onset of the second Manchu invasion of Korea. They're both taken captive and it is up to Ja-In's brother and guardian Nam-Yi (Hae-il Park) to save them with his insane bow-hunting skills.
There is so much to love about War of the Arrows that it's a little hard to know where to start. What amazes me the most, perhaps, is that despite the movie being easily 80% action it is able to establish fully rounded and believable characters in a very short amount of time. The film opens with Nam-Yi and Ja-in made orphans when their father is executed as a traitor, and they are adopted by one of their father's friends. This brief sequence echoes volumes for the rest of the film. Personality traits and ambitions the characters have all link back perfectly to this moment. Nam-Yi's father was an expert archer, so all he wants do to is be able to live up to him. Branded a traitor's son, training and martial arts or philosophy can't help him establish a future. Despite being an ambitionless young man, when his family is taken from him, it only makes sense he would fight this hard to get them back. Another thing I loved was that despite taking place in ancient Korea, the characters were all painted with humanity. So often in period films like this the characters are depicted so stiffly and with such ceremony that it's hard to see them as real people, where-as this film shows characters reacting humanly to situations. One of my favorite character moments is when Seo-Goon fucks up during his wedding ceremony and everyone laughs about it. He's nervous, and it's a wedding. Everyone is there to have a good time.
As well made the story is it easily pales in comparison to the action. I've seen War of Arrows compared to Apocalypto, but I would rather compare it to Die Hard. Once the Manchu take his family prisoner, he pretty much completely fucks up their invasion by himself. He uses guerrilla tactics and the most awesome archery ever to absolutely destroy everything. And while the action isn't focused on martial arts or choreography, it will keep you completely involved and awestruck. If I had one complaint it would be that there is a scene with a tiger that really takes away more than it adds, but it's a small one compared to how utterly awesome the rest of the film is.
War of the Arrows is a balls out action film with a bow and arrow. It's full of characters you care about and understand, superb cinematography, and suspenseful cat-and-mouse action sequences. Own it.
Upcoming requests include Lone Wolf and Cub Series, Beast Cops, Seven Swords, Battle of Wits, Breaking News, Tae Guk GI, and Assembly