masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Arahan 아라한 대풍 대작전 2004

arahan1.jpgSurely this is cinema as it was meant to be. It entertains, moves, astounds, engages our sympathy, and makes one want more. It is a loving tribute to classic Asian martial arts and fantasy movies and it produces that elusive belly-aching laugh. The actors are great and the casting is a sequence of strokes of genius. It is the third movie made by the two golden brothers of Korean cinema: Ryu Seungwan 유승완 and Ryu Seungbeom 유승범. It is Arahan 아라한 대풍 대작전.
Arahan is an impressive visual spectacle and a 21st century take on the martial arts/fantasy epic. It has unlikely heroes, seven mystical immortals, incredibly serious yet funny martial arts choreography, budding love interests, a villain who almost steals the show and an over-the-top grand finale that pays tribute to all wire kungfu movies ever. The story? Does it really matter? It’s a story about young, naive and rather incompetent cop Sanghwan who coincidentally meets seven immortals in modern Seoul who guard the world. The plot twists are familiar, but Ryu Seungwan has yet another take to offer an this well-known genre. He has a knack of redefining genres, playing with them, at once adhering to and breaking the rules and conventions (just as he did in Crying Fist 주먹이 운다, No Blood No Tears 피도 눈물도 없이 and City of Violence 짝패). He is the Clint Eastwood of the Eastern. Everything about this movie works: lest they be forgotten, Ahn Sung-gi 안성기, Yoon So-Yi 윤소이 and the incomparable martial arts director cum martial arts actor Jeong Doo Hong 정두홍 (who is such a wonderful villain you start rooting for him) must be mentioned. arahan7.jpgAs should the other six immortals (Ahn being one of them). As should the camera work, as should the jokes, as should the innumerable joking but deferential references to other works… the list is endless. Arahan is a match made in heaven between consummate craftsmanship, loads of fun and irony, and a love of cinema history (and in particular the B-movie). This is pulp in all its glory. Masterly!


1 Comment»

  randy wrote @

i totally agree; this is a great flick! i don’t know how i missed it for so long; thanks for bringing it to the attention of others!

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