It’s spring and I’m restless, and about as focused as a butterfly. My DramaFever queue is full of verified winners, but nothing grabs me –
I can’t commit.
It seemed like a good time to watch my first Korean film.
I didn’t notice it until now, but in a year of watching Korean TV, I have never once so much as channel-surfed through a Korean movie. I don’t know whether the total absence of movies on US Korean TV stations is representative of TV in Korea, or just a quirk of the local market. Another question for my list of Korean mysteries.
I feel a little remorseful that I’ve been neglecting Lee Seo Jin in favor of Yeon Jung Hun. I’m not usually so fickle. But like I said, it’s spring.
To make it up to him, I selected the 2005 film, The Shadowless Sword (aka Legend of the Shadowless Sword), for my first Korean film experience. It’s billed as a martial arts film (though it’s just as much a road film), so I wasn’t expecting to like it very much. However, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Yes, there is sword fighting withinin the first 5 seconds of the film, but by the 10th second, a woman uber-warrior (Yoon Soy Yi) appears on the scene, and proceeds to save the reluctant Balhae prince (Lee Seo Jin) for the rest of the movie, battling through forests, fields and marketplaces, in mid-air, and under water, while dodging barrages of flying blades of every conceivable description. Probably typical for this kind of film, but as a neophyte, I found it entertainingly novel.
It was also virtually bloodless. Sometimes the slain simply exploded into a cloud of flying debris.
The Shadowless Sword is more of a showcase for athleticism than acting ability, but Yoon Soy Yi does a respectable job with the scraps of backstory and dialogue that are allotted to her, as well as with the ubiquitous fighting scenes. I also appreciated that she hadn’t messed with her eyelids, although I think she has since (sigh. why would she want to look more like my ancestors than her own?? This near-universal self-mutilation has made it really difficult for me to relate to Korean actresses).
I haven’t seen Lee Seo Jin in a period role before, so his shaggy mane was great fun. The Shadowless Sword is not deep, and his talent was largely wasted on it, but the film-scale budget provided colorful period costumes and sets, and eye-catching locations (it was filmed in China). I’m sure this is even better on a big screen. It engaged my flighty mind just enough without asking too much from me. If you’re in the mood for something like that, The Shadowless Sword is just the thing.
See all reviews for dramas with Lee Seo Jin