“In 1592, the Japanese shogun Hideyoshi failed in his attempt to invade Korea (and later, China through Korea). This Hong Kong kung-fu thriller is loosely based on that historical incident. Since the real Hideyoshi is not an issue, and kung-fu is the star of the movie anyway, historical narration does not overpower the action. Basically, the movie shows the Koreans fighting the Japanese against all odds– but as everyone knows, that one Korean officer with the fast kicking feet, is going to whomp the heck out of anything that moves and single-handedly send Hideyoshi packing.”
This is what the back cover of one of the Kill The Shogun DVDs in my possession has on the movie. AND IT’S
NOT ACCURATE. In fact, it is so inaccurate it isn’t even wrong. “This Hong Kong kung-fu thriller is loosely based on that historical incident“: it’s loosely based, alright. It is four centuries wrong… Historical narration does not overpower the action here, that much is clear. Historical narration has left the building. Fortunately, the last sentence is right (well, except for the Hideyoshi reference; he’d been dead for more than 300 years in the period this movie was set).
This is fortunately the more accurate back cover text of the other version of the same movie I have:
April 1904 – the brutal takeover of Korea by the Japanese has the Korean army struggling to keep the country together. But when they lose their lead and are faced with the might of the Japanese military, the real battle begins. Tormented and held captive in a makeshift military prison, the Koreans fight an incredible martial arts battle for their honor. Leading them is one soldier, Han, who keeps the sprit and the strength of his country alive, surviving to see it free once again.
With this, I agree. And what do you get for your money spent on two different DVDs? An old school classic directed by D. Young Lee (Lee Duyong 이두용) with South Korean singer/actor turned Hong Kong action star James Nam (남석훈) kicking butt, Hwang Jang Lee (We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!) in a small role, David Kang (강대희) also smashing heads and lots and lots of nicely choreographed (nothing shocking though) fight scenes in which the outnumbered Koreans kick Japanese ass. The plot? Oh, you’ve seen that one before- several times in fact. Invasion, surrender, resistance of the brave few, torture, treason and lots of punching, kicking and walking into a wall to commit suicide. Yes, walking into a wall to commit suicide. No, I don’t get it either.
There are a few things worth mentioning except for the movie’s generic fun value: evil Japanese Imperial Army officers with 70s hairdo and aviator sun glasses (just like the pair I have), dramatic(ally bad) music, bad Japanese kempeitai dude in Gestapo coat and Gestapo glasses aided by bad Japanese kempeitai dude in white suit, shaven skull and wrestler’s mustache and the following conversation between the Japanese überbaddie and his underling when the former swallows a goldfish alive:
Do you like the natural method in which I eat sashimi?
Oh yes, your method has the advantage of being organic.
Nuff said. I was entertained.