The Pirates (2014)
Type: Korean Film
My Rating: 4 out of 5
I’ve always been a sucker for pirate stories since I was a kid. There’s just something thrilling about swashbuckling brigands with eye-patches fighting over buried troves of treasure. The Pirates captures that adventurous high seas magic I love.
Jang Sa-Jung is a soldier turned bandit leader who’s just looking for more wealth. Yeo-Wol is a female pirate captain who is committed to protecting her loyal band of brothers. When a gray whale attacks a convoy ship and swallows the Great Seal, the royal seal of Joseon (Korea), Yeo-Wol is commissioned by a cruel general to retrieve the stamp or suffer the consequences. Meanwhile the bandits are itching for a chance to take the treasure the gray whale swallowed.
This movie surprised me on so many fronts. It’s surprisingly hilarious! The humor, reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean witty tongue-in-cheek moments, was so entertaining. One of my favorite laugh-out-loud moments was when the ex-pirate-turned-bandit tried to explain to land-locked bandits the size and scope of a whale. And the movie is so beautiful! Gorgeous sharp cinematography filled the entire movie from dense forests, rainfall at a massive war camp, to the turquoise blue ocean waters. I also loved the fantastical martial arts and swordplay.
|Kim Nam-Gil as Jang Sa-Jung|
Kim Nam-Gil is back!! I swear it’s like Bidam (his character in Queen Seondeok) again with his long flowing mane and fantastic acting effortlessly marrying together his characteristic intensity and moments of hilarity. While I think studios are aware of the palpable passion he brings to the screen (he’s been in many revenge dramas), only a few decide to capitalize on his natural comedic talent. I still think the writers could’ve done a few things better with his character, Jang Sa-Jung; mainly fleshing out animosity between him and the villain, who was severely underwritten, and work out a more natural romance between him and Yeo-Wol.
I really enjoyed Yeo-Wol’s character as well. Son Ye-Jin (Yeo-Wol’s actresss) played her strength as a pirate queen naturally without having to act like she was trying to be a macho hero. She reminded me of Tauriel (elf-lady from The Hobbit movies) who portrayed a tough warrior girl yet still very feminine. Again, I fault the writers for not divulging more of Yeo-Wol’s character. Though I didn’t mind the fact that she didn’t have much back-story, it would’ve been nice to show more of what she was feeling during the story.
I think, in the end, the writers chose to focus more on the comic adventure of pirates and bandits pursing a whale with a royal stamp, which admittedly is an amusing, if not entertaining plot-line.. What the writers overlooked in character growth, they stepped up in keeping up a brisk pace, allowing characters to effortlessly interweave throughout the movie so we never had a dull moment. This flick is definitely one I’ll be visiting again.