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Musa : The Warrior (KOREA 2001)

Director : Kim Sung-su
Cast : Ahn Sung-Ki, Jung Woo-sung, Joo Jin-mo, Zhang Ziyi and Yu Rong-guang

Synopsis
In the late fourteenth century a Korean diplomatic envoy is sent to make peace with the new Ming government but its members are accused of spying and are ultimately exiled to a remote desert in the west. Upon escaping from their captures and heading home for Korea, they come across Yuan soldiers who have kidnapped a Ming princess, Princess Fu-Rong (Zhang Ziyi), and decide to rescue her in order to secure safe passage home by the Ming court.

Review
by Vincent Yeoh

Directed by Kim Sung-su who has already established his finely polished, Hong Kong inspired action in contemporary films like Beat (1997) and City of the Rising Sun (1998). In Musa he’s taken a large scale period drama epic and given it a dose of dramatic realism, which lacks nothing as a historical epic and yet has better action sequences then some Hollywood productions of a similar scale without having to resort to the use of CGI characters. Musa is a record breaker, having taken five years to make and being the most expensive move in Korean history with a budget of 8 million Korean dollars. This movie runs at almost 3 hours long and is long to sit through.

It contains plenty of battle scenes often involving hundreds of extra’s and horses in desert locations. This film is very violent and has many people being shown shot in the neck with arrows, Decapitated, dismembered and cut in the back. The films first hour is the densest as characters and conflicts are thrown at the audience in rapid fire succession. We see the Good guys have internal conflicts with each other as the General and the slave going at each others throats at times and a love triangle develops with fu Rong, Yeo Sol and Choi as Furong has an eye for Yeo sol while Choi finds himself attracted to Furong.

The year is 1375. A time of historical significance for Asia as three kingdoms vies for dominance. China is in a state of chaotic fighting as the newly formed Ming Dynasty (Han Chinese) and the Yuan Dynasty made up of the Mongol people fight for control of China. The Yuan empire are losing ground after the successes made by Genghis Khan nearly 300 years prior. Meanwhile the Ming have come to power and a new ruler now reigns over the Koryu, who are the ancient Koreans. A Korean diplomatic envoy travelling to China has been sent to exile, While being marched into the desert by Ming soldiers a surprise attack by the remnants of the Yuan Army leave all the Ming soldiers dead while leaving the survivors minus their diplomats to the heat and sand.

The inexperienced young Korean general Choi Jung played by Joo Jin-mo Decides to take command of the survivors who include a mish mash group of civilians, A slave Yeo Sol played by Jung Woo-sung and his old sick master, Choi’s loyal soldiers and poorly equipped troops of the people’s army led by the seasoned and wise Sergent Jin lib played by Ahn Sung-Kee. Together they continue through the desert with the objective of reaching Shandong province where they can catch a boat that will take them home back to Koryu. When almost all hope is lost they stumble upon a village in the desert and find a kidnapped Ming princess being held by the Yuan Army. Choi Jung ultimately decides to rescue her and return her safely to the emperor in order to re establish diplomacy with the Ming.

The plan succeeds with an ambush leaving only the Yuan General played by Yu Rong-guang (of Iron Monkey ) alive and being spared by Yeo Sol a former slave who was freed by his dying master. But being a stubborn typical Mongol the general he hates being beaten and vows to re capture Fu Rong for the glory of the Mongols. He sets out with over a hundred cavalry and tracks down the Koryu who have found themselves trapped and barricaded in an abandoned Ming Fortress where they will make their last stand against the Mongol attackers.

I thoroughly enjoyed Musa watching such Chinese actors like Zhang Ziyi playing an helpless spoilt princess who matures at the end of the film and Yu Rong-guang as the Mongol general who plays his role superbly as the bad guy who didn’t give up. The acting is all performed really well and you get to see the characters develop. The cinematography and the locations are really top notch, the sets were nicely detailed. The actions were realistically performed as well and the period costumes just looked cool. I would recommend this movie for those who are not squeamish about blood and like period action drama’s realistically dramatic action sequences without much CGI.

Rating
Plot : 4/5
Acting : 3/5
Entertainment : 4/5
Overall : 4/5

Notable Scenes
- Yeo Su kicking ass with his spear
- The final defence at the fortress
- Sergent Jin lib’s masterful bow skills

Buy this movie at YesAsia – Musa The Warrior

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