Orphaned as a child, Nam Yi overcame tragic loss to become the most accomplished hunter and archer of his generation. When his beloved Korea comes under attack from Chinese imperial forces, he returns from the forest to discover that his sister, and only living relative, has been taken into slavery by Manchu invaders. Now faced with the most daunting challenge of his life, he must fight to re-unite his family and prove his courage against the greatest archers history has ever known.
On the day of Nam-yi’s (Park Hae Il) sister wedding day, the Korean village they live in is suddenly invaded by the Manchurians, killing people on site, and ultimately, kidnapping Ja In. Little did these Manchurians know that Nam-yi is a skilled hunter and archer, and he has sworn to protect his only sister at all times.
Once Nam-yi crosses the line and goes across the border, bows will be stretched and arrows will fly. This is ‘War of the Arrows’, a South Korean film that is one thrilling, long chase sequence that highlights the power and ruthlessness of archery never seen before.
‘War of the Arrows’ is written and directed by Kim Han-min, whose take on the action thriller-historical drama is as piercing as the arrows that land on those unfortunate souls. It has been compared to Mel Gibson’s ‘Apocalypto’ in its intensity, little dialogue, and simple plot. Though a period piece, film is unconcerned with giving us a history lesson; it delves more into Nam-yi’s strong persistence to rescue his sister and his unmatched skill with the bow and arrow.
All the characters’ motives are clear-cut, there is a goal here, and lives will have to be lost in order to achieve it, that’s the game plan. With a gritty photography of mountains and trees plus arrows flying in the air – whether alone or a full-fledged attack – there is a heightened sense of danger for those involved. Acting courtesy of Park Hae Il (‘The Host’) is subtle but effective. He lets the fierceness of his bow and arrow speak for himself.
Since ‘War of the Arrows’ dispenses any trite drama, it makes sure to get your blood pumping. There are so little intermissions to catch your breath, everyone’s running and sending out arrows to one another. Blink and you’ll miss how that arrow hit its target. This movie espouses the beauty of archery, more than how it was featured in the person of Legolas in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. You may want to take up archery after this.