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Age of Shadows, The


Stars: Song Kang-Ho, Gong Yoo, Han Ji-Min, Shingo Tsurumi, Um Tae-Goo

Director: Kim Jee-Woon

Extraordinarily long Korean period thriller, set in the early 1920s when the country was under the heel of Japan. A Korean police chief (Song Kang-Ho,), now working for the Japanese, is asked to infiltrate the underground resistance movement and bring its leaders to book.

His Japanese counterpart (Um Tae-Goo) suspects his motives and rightly so. But who will enjoy a final triumph in a deadly game of spy and counterspy?

The resulting game of cat and mouse would probably play better as a three-part TV series. But, even so, the plot has its moments, mostly aboard a train, but also in the faux-climax (followed by several other scenes) in which resistance collaborators plan a massive explosion at an elaborate ball.

Too many characters, though, often make the issues here less than clear-cut; especially difficult to understand is why the traitor to the movement didn't rat out the renegade Korean police chief at an early stage.

Performances are slightly larger-than-life in the Korean style, with Park Hee-Soon making a brief impression as a resistance leader killed at the beginning after an excitingly-staged chase.

David Quinlan

South Korea 2016. UK Distributor: Soda (Warner Brothers). Colour (unspecified).
141 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Mar 2017