I’m not positive about it, but I feel there are countless ways movies can build tension; with many of the methods being mixed-n-mashed together. While Hollywood seems content on using around 5 ways to build tension, I’ve noticed the other countinents looking to be a little more creative and their approach. An example of an action movie where tension is built, not necessarily in the fighting itself, but the scenes inbetween. The chasing, the hiding, the outmanuvering of an opponet then cutting them down; these elements of building tension are what makeup “War of the Arrows”.
A movie directed by Han-min Kim whose other credits include Handphone (2009), and Paradise Murdered (2007). He also wrote Handphone as well as War of the Arrows; while acting in Paradise Murdered. A very intense style of directing was used during the action sequences in War of the Arrows; and it was balanced by some scenes of slacker comedy early on.
The hero of the film is not a hero, at least not at first. He’s a coward. In fact he’s the very definition of one. At a young age, he and his younger sister were the children of a traitor to the throne. Their father sent them off to a safe kingdom nearby before being killed. Unfortunately, both kids witnessed the death of their father. The only thing Nam Yi (the hero) has to remember his father is a (soon to be legendary) bow and a few arrows. Soon, Nam Yi grows up to be the greatest archer in Korea and practices his skills daily. However, he is ultimately looked down upon for having no ambition only then to be a hunter. His sister, is constantly courted by the men in the region. Without spoiling too much, the Qing Dynasty attacks and in the ensuing battle Nam Yi’s sister (Ja In) is captured. It’s now up to Nam Yi, and his friends to save his people from slavery and persecution.
War of the Arrows is pretty amazing in what it’s able to accomplish. It’s entertaining, it keeps things simple and visceral; and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Not only all that but Nam Yi being the unsure hero he is makes watching his adventure all that more unpredictable. Nam Yi’s skill is unequaled and throughout the movie he is tested by the warriors from the Qing Dynasty. Even after watching Nam Yi best dozens of his pursuers in intense scenes of sniping; the end of the movie still had me in doubt as to whether he could truly survive this insane, blood thirsy pursuit. The pace also begins to rev up as for every warrior Nam Yi slains, his comrade swears revenge and doubles their pursuit of him. One thing that Nam Yi has on his side? He knows the terrain of the forests better than anyone. Afterall, they were his hunting grounds. Anyway, this is a film I recommend for a friday night. Send out for pizza and enjoy yourself, it’s a great ride.