After watching Lockout (2012) and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), Sean and I decided we could do with a few more action films tinged with silliness. This led us to The Warrior’s Way (2010), which I can’t decide if it is more weird than silly. With a bit more browsing on Netflix the following evening we found: Arahan jangpung daejakjeon (2004), a South Korean film written/directed by Ryu Seung-wan (w/ sub-titles).
Sanghwan (Ryu Seung-beom ) is a painfully honest rookie policeman who after getting beat up one too many times decides to take a strange group of older people up on their offer to train him to ascend to a Maruchi. He wouldn’t have even met these Masters of Tao if not for one’s daughter having hit him with a Palm Blast while chasing down a purse snatcher. The beautiful and super-heroic Eui-jin (Yoon So-yi ) takes Sanghwan to her father Ja-un (An Sung-ki) and his friends to recover which is where the Masters discover, at long last, a young person with powerful Qi, and thus a potentially powerful warrior—which is timely because someone unearthed and re-awoken a dreaded foe, renegade Master Heug-un (Jeong Doo-hong), who wants to take over the world.
Sanghwan is a do-gooder, unwilling to back down from the powerful or the corrupt (which is key), but he is also socially awkward and boyishly gross and idiotic. They would never have allowed Ralph Macchio to look this inept even if he could have pulled it off. It should say something that Sean’s best American match for the role of Sanghwan would be a young Jerry Lewis. It works toward the comedic aspect, especially alongside the cool Eui-jin who is a gifted martial artist as well as beautiful. Costuming goes a long way in understating Ryu Seung-beom’s physique and looks. If I had to liken the progression and its antics to a character or film, it would be Spiderman. There is even running along the side of buildings and flying through the air! Once Sanghwan comes into his own and takes to the training, he is properly bad-ass. I could watch him hacky-sack shot glasses at the bad guys for hours. I probably could have done without the growling at one another though. Some of the pacing suffers in the fight scenes (especially the final one) but the effects are a pleasure.
The story is pretty straight-forward, the cast is full of personality (even though plenty are caricature), and you can enjoy it rather mindlessly. Even still, there is some moralizing to the film. An aging (dying) art (both spiritual/cultural) that the elderly Masters are concerned is fading away. There are questions about when it is best to interfere in corrupt action or let it go and allow nature (consequence) to run its course.
If you are despairing of finding a place to live by August 1st in Denver (like we are) or some other such madness, Arahan is a pleasant distraction full of cheesy goodness. If you are just looking for a silly-filled action flick, look for Arahan (w/subtitles).
of note: looking at Seung-wan Ryoo’s wiki page, I’m thinking Die Bad (2000; which is placed in the vein of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino) and Crying Fist (2005) look good; although I think the silliness-factor may be out.
directed by Ryu Seung-wan; written by Ryu Seung-wan, Eun Ji-hee, & Yu Seon-dong; editing: Nam Na-yeong; produced by Kim Mi-hee; starring: Ryu Seung-beom (Sanghwan), Yoon So-Yi (Eui-jin), An Sung-ki (Ja-un), & Jeong Doo-hong (Heug-un)
Language: Korean. Running Time 115 minutes. I don’t know about the Rating but I would probably put it at PG13?
I found this review at KoreanFilm.org (which I will perusing more thoroughly later—I am having the best time with Korean films).