Director: Ryu Seung-wan
Cast: Ryu Seung-beom, Ahn Sung-gi, Yoo So-yi
Arahan is a very entertaining movie with tons of HK-style action (ranging from Chinese traditional swordfights, Jackie-Chan-style-one-against-all fistfights, Dragon-Ball-Palm-Blast anti-gravitational fantasy fights, etc). Watching this movie is like revisiting the good old days of HK kung-fu cinema.
The story revolves around a young policeman, Sang Hwan (Ryu Seung-beom), whose innocence leads to personal humiliation by the gangsters. Accidentally, once while conducting a routine police investigation, he's been wounded by the beautiful and mysterious Eui-jin (Yoo So-yi) with the Palm Blast ch'i (qigong). In fact, EJ is the daughter of one of the Seven Swordsmen, who in turn belongs to a secret clan of Ch'i masters with the double tasks of maintaining the natural order of this world and to guard against the resurrection of Heung-en, a once colleague now in captive under the Altar of the Seven Swordsmen. Predictably, Sang-Hwan is "the One" missing Swordsman who can fight back against the resurrected evil-doer, Heung-en. The last 30 min. features a near-non-stop action fights between Heung-en and the pair of Sang-Hwan and Eui-jin.
Director Ryu Seung-wan nevers hides the fact that most of the fight scenes derive directly from some of his most beloved HK action movies. These include esp. a Jackie-Chan-style fight scene inside a restaurant. However, imo, the excellent swordfight choreography is captured in the first encounter between Heung-en and the two younger ones. And the last 20-min. or so witness ferocious bare-fist fights with trademark Bruce Lee poses & screams. Some shorter cuts look familiar, probably inspired by the last fight scene in Once Upon A Time In China 1.
There are also narrative scenes that look recycled from Shaolin Soccer. One earlier scene recalls such a resemblance when Eui-jin tries to explain to Sang-Hwan that everyone can become a ch'i master because of natural talents unnoticed. Then Sang-Hwan is shown a number of the pedestrians using their skills in everyone routine (e.g., a woman walks naturally with a big heavy bag placed on top of her head; a man is pushing up a heavy cart-load with ease from a slope, etc).
Comparison with Volcano High is unavoidable. The characters in Volcano High look somewhat cooler in posture while those in Arahan are less charismatic. But lead actor, Ryu Seung-beom, has demonstrated his comedy talents to keep the movie never slides back to a no-holds-bar personal doom. Actually, Arahan is a movie for youngsters who love fantasy fights. I'll say it accomplishes that very well.
All in all, a strongly recommended purchase for those avid kung-fu and/or martial arts movie-lovers.
P.S. Why can't HK nowadays produce such fun-filled and crazy movies but instead trashes such as Twins Effects 2?
Cool guy(s) - Shin Ha-Kyun
Reviewed by: Sebastian Tse