The Duelist was released in cinemas on Friday. In a way, I wish I’d gone to see it in preference to Kim So-yong’s In Between Days as I was in the mood for something a bit unchallenging. I’ve yet to find anyone to say it’s a great film, but lots of people enjoy the visuals.
I long ago removed Times film critic Wendy Ide from the list of people who have anything sensible to say about Korean film, so when I saw her name at the bottom of a two paragraph piece in the weekend entertainment supplement I knew it was unlikely to be a glowing review. I had also forgotten she always gets confused between family names and given names. Here’s what she has to say:
Director Myung-se Lee, 12A, 111min,
Stars: Ji-Won Ha, Sung-Kee Ahn, Dong-Won Kang
On selected release
This Korean martial arts movie is rather baffling. Based on a manga comic, it blends stylised imagery and balletic fight choreography with a comic sensibility that borders on the puerile.
The story, such as it is, concerns a female detective called Namsoon (Ji-won, a decent knife fighter, a horrible actress) investigating a plot to flood the country with counterfeit money, She finds herself thrown , time and again, against a mysterious swordsman known as Sad Eyes. Although they are on different sides of the law, Namsoon and the enigmatic warrior are drawn to each other. But this courtship plays out at the end of a blade to the insufferably smug strains of the Gotan Project, so it’s pretty much doomed.
I think she didn’t like it then. But Ha Ji-won (below), horrible?