The Age of Shadows (2016) Review- A Complete Visual Delicacy?

After Kim Jee-Won‘s repeated and progressively increasing success in the movies he directs and writes, my attention was drawn to one of his most picturesque directions; The Age of Shadows.

Almost every second of this movie is poster worthy

This movie stars Song Kang-ho (and possibly another character Yoo-gong) as a born Korean but Japanese cop during the barbaric age of the Empire of Japan. The story sets a conflict ridden atmosphere within the first few minutes of the movie and creates a sense of mystery in a war movie. The plot touches areas where it shows the exploitation of the Korean people by the then Japanese government and how there existed a sort of brewing resentment in the Korean born populous. With time they managed to form a resistance with the crown belonging to a man called Che-san.

This is what trains used to be like back in the Ol’ days

Song Kang-ho’s role as Lee Jung-chool in the story primarily starts from the point when he is asked to visit a Kim Woo-jin. Soon enough, Lee Jung-chool, would be seen having an inclination towards the resistance and would attempt to do what not to support them and their cause.

Could not have asked for a better angle to cover such an action packed moment
The surprisingly petite car

Perhaps the most enticing part of the movie is its visuals, the movie has a certain aesthetic appeal that can only be described through experiencing it. Unlike Wes Anderson, this style uses a very matt shade of colours to express the bleak nature of the era. Perhaps this coupled with a story about war with hues of gore ( the torture scenes), is what compelled them to send this movie in for the Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars instead of the Handmaiden or the Train to Busan.

The attention to detail in this movie

The direction is surprisingly detailed, for example in one of the scenes where the resistance leader, Jung-chool and a few others share a drink, the Korean etiquette of drinking has been quite deftly portrayed with the younger ones turning their backs whilst drinking from the elders while some bow while drinking. Absolutely marvelous attention to detail!!

The plot deserves a revision since the movie felt needlessly lengthy towards towards the middle but had a healthy plot-pace in the beginning and the end. And add this to the fact that a bit of drama, action, gore, espionage and gore elements are key members in the plot, we have one compelling movie.

Final Verdict

This movie is a definite hit. The focus on the character build-up for the protagonist vs the other characters is perfectly balanced and no one seems to have over or under cooked their roles.

This movie is a must watch.

The trailer is here.

Rotten tomatoes gives it a 100% based on 44 critics.

imdb gives it a 7.1/10 based on 6501 votes.

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