The Age of Shadows Screen 6 articles

The Age of Shadows


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  • The result is a sometimes successful but ultimately disappointing drama that drains most of the poetry from the Melville source inspiration through Kim’s heavy reliance on CGI ultra-violence. Also, the desire to maintain a kind of resistance myth in Korea, which was rather outdated even when Melville attempted it nearly five decades ago in France, is rather off-putting.

  • Local audiences should respond well to the stirring patriotic sentiment on display here, although the film’s uneven first half could make it a tougher sell elsewhere. An impressive range of expertly-staged set-pieces and lavish period recreations/costume designs will help though.

  • As solid as the setup is, the outstanding section of The Age of Shadows is the central one. To merely call it an exciting set piece on a train running between Shanghai and Seoul doesn’t quite capture the extent of its classical meticulousness. Taking its time at the start of the ride, and explosively capping it off at the end, it reaches Snowpiercer (2013) levels of intensity in just over 20 minutes.

  • Despite some attempts at imitating a more classical visual style, with old-fashioned dissolves often linking scenes, The Age Of Shadows is still the work of a fiendish and outrageous filmmaker. It’s hard not to crack a smile at a movie that subtitles Morse code telegraph transmissions, relishes disorienting sound effects, or makes novel use of smash zooms.

  • A filmmaker as attuned to detail and process as a watchmaker, Kim Jee-woon allows the machinations to build up and play out in inexorable yet unpredictable fashion. The centerpiece is a long, glorious sequence in which all the principal characters find themselves on a train to Seoul... With its brutal, close-quarters action choreography and its steadily intensifying suspense, the sequence is a tour de force in a movie that, minute by vise-like minute, proves worthy of the same designation.

  • it's action that director Kim Jee-woon is renowned for. And that's exactly what he provides in a series of stunning set pieces that make up for any espionage incomprehensibility, from an opening involving a police chase over rooftops to a chaotic train station shootout. The train ride becomes the film's highlight, a brilliant sequence in which characters try to hide amid passengers, goods are smuggled, loyalties flip, and everything goes fabulously to hell despite everyone's best efforts.

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