With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review of THE PIRATES on Blu-ray

Well Go USA Entertainment
 The Pirates/Hae-jeok: Ba-da-ro gan san-jeok
Directed by LEE Seok-hoon
South Korea, 2014, 130 minutes

The South Korean swashbuckling blockbuster The Pirates was recently released on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital from Well Go USA Entertainment. (See my release announcement post here.) This review is based on watching the Blu-ray, which is gorgeous.

The film is set in the late 1300s, around the time of the founding of the Joseon Dynasty. The Ming Emperor of China has given the new dynasty its name and a royal seal that will be necessary to make any and all decrees official. Unfortunately, as Korean emissary HAN Sang-jil (OH Dal-su) is bringing it back to Korea, a whale attacks the ship he is on and swallows the seal! Fortunately the broken off flag pole from the ship is stuck in the whale's back, making it easily identifiable.

Pirate captain Yeo-wol (actress SON Ye-jin), center, and some of her crew

The whale is hunted by pirates and bandits, as well as by government officials, all seeking to retrive the royal seal. Captain Yeo-wol (actress SON Ye-jin, of Blood and Ties) leads one ship of pirates.

Sa-jung, a.k.a. "Crazy Tiger," (actor KIM Nam-gil), lower left, and some of his bandits

The bandits, on another ship, are led by JANG Sa-jung (actor KIM Nam-gil, of No Regret), a former military officer known as "Crazy Tiger" after he became leader of a gang.

Government officials and another pirate captain are on a third ship.

Pirate turned bandit Chul-bong (YOO Hae-jin)

Chul-bong (YOO Hae-jin, Flu) provides some of the delightful comic relief as a pirate who suffers from seasickness, leaves the ocean and joins Sa-jung's mountain bandits, only to return to help his men hunt the whale!

Disc Specs:
- Audio Options
   - Korean 5.1 DTS HDMA
   - Korean 2.0 Stereo
- Subtitles
   - English
   - Off
- Extras
  - Trailer
  - Previews (trailers of three other Well Go USA offerings)

The Pirates was the #4 hit at the South Korean Box Office in 2014 with over 8,665,000 admissions. (Roaring Currents, another South Korean film with a nautical theme, was #1, followed by two Hollywood films, Frozen and Interstellar.) Son Ye-jin was named Best Actress at the South Korea's Grand Bell Awards in 2014.

The Pirates is a terrific, fun romp, with plenty of action and adventure, a bit of romance, and some very fine special effects. I previously saw the film at a free screening sponsored by the Korean Cultural Council on September 23, 2014, and my enjoyment at watching it again attests to its repeat viewing value.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended.

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