Dreaming of The Duelist
by Ender’s Girl
Ha Ji-won, Kang Dong-won, Ahn Sung-ki, Song Young-chan
Written and directed by Lee Myung-se / Korea Pictures, 2005
In a Nutshell:
Undercover detectives Ahn and Namsoon are hot on the trail of a counterfeiting syndicate that is fast paralyzing the Joseon economy. Complicating matters is the entrance of a mysterious and deadly swordsman who stands in the way of their investigation.
What I loved most about this film was the breathtaking beauty of the visuals and the heavily stylized direction. It’s as if I had walked into a dream… The movie has the feel of a graphic novel on celluloid (like Frank Miller’s 300, for instance), or a stage play translated to film. Director Lee Myung-se reveals his proclivity for the theatrical with his use of dramatic tableaus, vivid colors and striking contrasts in scene rendering and composition, and especially the interplay of light and shadow. This third aspect is particularly used to enhance the atmosphere of the duel scenes between Namsoon (Ha Ji-won) and the mysterious swordsman, whom we only know as Sad Eyes (Kang Dong-won) — and we see this in the clash of blades, the glint of steel, the shadows and silhouettes. Super cool…