Shin plays the main character, a protagonist with an amazing martial arts prowess that allows him to fight as if he was “flying.” It’s a sword technique that gives Shin the power to explode bodies with a slash of his sword. Yes, I kid you not. He did this throughout the movie. (Although for some reason the bodies are filled with sand when Shin explodes them.)
Shin is in love with Kim, the daughter of a military general, and the two have been in love since they were children when Shin saved Kim from a wolf. The two are inevitably separated (what’s a love story without obstacles?) when the general decides he wants his daughter to marry an opposing general’s son in order to ease tension between the two sides. It works, and Shin and Kim are torn apart. But this being a case of true love, Shin can’t get over his love for Kim and vice versa, and Kim’s husband ends up having to fight Shin with his father-in-law’s entire army at his side. Needless to say, the love struck Shin is defeated and falls to his death off a cliff, but is saved by a peasant who in turn becomes Shin’s prot’g’ and learns the martial arts through Shin.
Years go by. Kim has a son, but it’s Shin’s son, and not her husband’s. Long story short, Shin is royally ticked off at 1) being torn from the love of his life, and 2) almost getting killed by the love of his life’s father. Years later Shin has formed a gang of elite killers and has joined an invading party that takes over the domain of Kim’s father. A lot of exploding bodies ensue, Shin and Kim’s love are re-ignited, and the two eventually gets back together, but not before a new enemy, who appears halfway through the movie without much fanfare or introduction, rears its ugly head.
The movie is not bad, just overly convoluted and slightly too quick-paced at 90 minutes. I believe it was supposed to be longer, and the movie feels edited to death. This would explain the poor introduction of the main villain, who doesn’t show up until the 50-minute mark and proves to have little reason to exist other than to threaten the man who can explode bodies. We also get a melodramatic ending that comes out of nowhere. It’ll make the women in the audience cry, but it is, to be honest, rather silly.
The actors played their parts well. Shin is moody and well-suited for his role as the unbeatable warrior. Kim, the heroine, is fine in her part, and very, very easy on the eyes. The rest have such underwritten and under explored roles that it’s hard to gauge their performance. People show up, some die, others just disappears. There’s really nothing to the background characters, and once again I believe this is the fault of the editing.
A viewing of the movie’s unedited version would probably yield more understanding.
Young-jun Kim (director) / Young-jun Kim (screenplay)
CAST: Hyun-joon Shin