Friday, March 13, 2015

Film Review: Blades of Blood (2010)

Blades of Blood (Review)
Lee Joon-ik/Hwang Jung-min/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...director Lee Joon-ik makes up for some of its shortcomings."

In the late 16th century, the Joseon kingdom faces the imminent threat of a Japanese invasion. Skilled swordsman Lee Mong-hak (Cha Seung-won) seizes the opportunity to overthrow the government, while blind swordsman Hwang Jeong-hak (Hwang Jung-min) opts to stop him...

Blades of Blood continues to follow the chaos after Mong-hak kills the family of Kyeon-ja (Baek Sung-hyun), the stubborn bastard child. Mong-hak injures Kyeon-ja. On the brink of death, Kyeon-ja is rescued by Jeong-hak. Jeong-hak essentially trains Kyeon-ja as he tracks Mong-hak. Meanwhile, Mong-hak continues to overthrow the government with brute force. Although it packs quite a bit of story, it is predictable and cliché. The ending, however, was effective.

Blades of Blood is a film with few technical flaws. It's a well-constructed story with a fast pace and splendid action sequences. The swordplay in this film is absolutely wonderful, I loved the choreography and camerawork. There are plenty of action sequences, too. The film also balances its story and action very well, it's not a lopsided action-packed extravaganza – I thought this approach helped with the pacing and engagement of the film.

The problem with this film is its generic story. Sure, it's interesting and entertaining, but we've seen this film dozens of times over. A stubborn young man who's injured by a nemesis well-above his skill level; the blind expert who hones his skills in an unconventional way; the buildup to one final duel with his foe. I don't fault it too much for this approach, but it holds an otherwise exceptionally-made film back from reaching its full potential. Also, I would've enjoyed a little more character in Lee Mong-hak, he's not really fleshed out as much as one would want.

The acting is great, though. Cha Seung-won fits the villainous role perfectly. Hwang Jung-min is energetic and fun. Baek Sung-hyun isn't quite phenomenal, but he's more than competent. The film is beautifully shot. Like I said, I loved the camerawork during the action sequences. I also liked the attention to the costumes and setting Рit really brought me into this world. The music was also very effective in developing the tone. The action choreography is great. Director Lee Joon-ik misses the mark in developing some characters and he's working with a clich̩ story, but he crafts it exceptionally, regardless.

Overall, Blades of Blood is very good action film. The story is interesting, the action is superb, and the acting is great. On the technical side, Blades of Blood is a superb film. However, Blades of Blood is a film we've seen before under many different titles – it's filled with cliches and it follows a very familiar path. If it weren't for it's superb action, I would rate this a 6/10. Fortunately, director Lee Joon-ik makes up for some of its shortcomings.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and some gore.

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