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The Age of Shadows (2016) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) DVD Region 3

Song Kang Ho (Actor) | Gong Yoo (Actor) | Han Ji Min (Actor) | Shin Sung Rok (Actor)
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The Age of Shadows (2016) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

An exciting cat-and-mouse game between a double agent and a resistance fighter unfolds in the spy thriller The Age of Shadows by I Saw the Devil director Kim Jee Woon. Set in the 1920s during the Japanese occupation period, the Warner Bros-produced espionage action film was named the Best Film at the 36th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards, and was even selected as Korea's Oscar candidate for Best Foreign Language Film. After its world premiere at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, the costume blockbuster was screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. In the spy tale, Gong Yoo (Train to Busan) fights for freedom with fellow independence activists, including Han Ji Min (The Fatal Encounter) and Shin Sung Rok (The King's Face), while being chased by Song Kang Ho's (The Throne) undercover agent and his partner played by Um Tae Goo (Coin Locker Girl), who was crowned Best Supporting Actor at the 53rd Grand Bell Awards. Lee Byung Hun and Park Hee Soon make cameo appearances in the film.

Once a Korean independence activist, Korean-born Japanese police officer Lee Jung Chool (Song Kang Ho) is assigned a mission to infiltrate a Korean resistance group. To collect intelligence about the secret organization, he approaches the leader Kim Woo Jin (Gong Yoo), who poses as an art dealer to conceal his true identity. As he works with his once good friends in the group, Jung Chool becomes increasingly dubious about his mission, and the Japanese government grows suspicious of his loyalty. Now both the hunter and the hunted, Jung Chool is thrown into a dilemma when the freedom fighters plan to bomb the key Japanese facilities in Seoul.

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Technical Information

Product Title: The Age of Shadows (2016) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) 密探 (2016) (DVD) (香港版) 密探 (2016) (DVD) (香港版) The Age of Shadows (2016) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) 밀정
Also known as: Secret Agent Secret Agent Secret Agent Secret Agent Secret Agent
Artist Name(s): Song Kang Ho (Actor) | Gong Yoo (Actor) | Han Ji Min (Actor) | Shin Sung Rok (Actor) | Um Tae Goo (Actor) | Tsurumi Shingo (Actor) | Heo Sung Tae | Han Soo Yeon (Actor) | Seo Young Joo (Actor) | Joo Seok Tae (Actor) 宋 康昊 (Actor) | 孔侑 (Actor) | 韓智敏 (Actor) | 申成祿 (Actor) | 嚴 泰谷 (Actor) | 鶴見辰吾 (Actor) | 許 成泰 | 韓秀妍 (Actor) | 徐英洙 (Actor) | 周 錫泰 (Actor) 宋 康昊 (Actor) | 孔侑 (Actor) | 韩智敏 (Actor) | 申成禄 (Actor) | 严 泰谷 (Actor) | 鹤见辰吾 (Actor) | 许 成泰 | 韩秀妍 (Actor) | 徐英洙 (Actor) | 周 锡泰 (Actor) ソン・ガンホ (Actor) | コン・ユ (Actor) | ハン・ジミン (Actor) | シン・ソンロク (Actor) | Um Tae Goo (Actor) | つるみしんご (Actor) | ホ・ソンテ | Han Soo Yeon (Actor) | ソ・ヨンジュ (Actor) | Joo Seok Tae (Actor) 송 강호 (Actor) | 공유 (Actor) | 한지민 (Actor) | 신성록 (Actor) | 엄태구 (Actor) | Tsurumi Shingo (Actor) | 허성태 | 한수연 (Actor) | 서영주 (Actor) | 주 석태 (Actor)
Director: Kim Jee Woon 金 知雲 Kim Jee Woon キム・ジウン 김지운
Release Date: 2017-06-22
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese
Country of Origin: South Korea
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Sound Information: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital EX(TM) / THX Surround EX(TM)
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 3 - South East Asia (including Hong Kong, S. Korea and Taiwan) What is it?
Publisher: Edko Films Ltd. (HK)
Package Weight: 100 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1060545131

Product Information

The 1920s, when Korea has fallen under Japanese rule. Lee Jung-chool (SONG Kang-ho), a Korean police captain in the Japanese police force, is given a special mission to infiltrate the armed resistance fighting for Korean independence. He approaches Kim Woo-jin (GONG Yoo), a leader of the resistance. These two men who stand on opposite sides of their historical era, each knowing the identity and intentions of the other, become close without revealing their inner thoughts. Meanwhile intel is being leaked on both sides, and no one knows who the informants are. Members of the resistance meet in Shanghai to obtain explosives that will be used to destroy facilities of the Japanese Headquarters in Seoul, while the Japanese police follow them and gather in Shanghai. The pursued and the pursuers, locked in an operation where each side uses the other and is thrown into a confusion of secret enmity and conciliation. Meanwhile, a train carrying explosives passes the border and heads towards Seoul... South Korea’s Oscars entry for Best Foreign-Language Category.
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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "The Age of Shadows (2016) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)"

July 7, 2017

This professional review refers to The Age of Shadows (2DVD) (Korea Version)
Are there any directors more versatile than Kim Jee-woon? Looking at his CV, it would appear that there certainly can't be many, the Korean helmer having switched between action, comedy, horror, science fiction and quiet drama with assurance and ease, earning himself a slew of awards and a reputation as one of the country's most talented filmmakers in the process. Kim follows up his 2013 Hollywood outing The Last Stand with The Age of Shadows, which surely ranks as one of the biggest Korean films of recent years even if only due to the sheer amount of star power in front of the camera, including Song Kang-ho (The Throne), Gong Yoo (Train to Busan), Han Ji-min (The Fatal Encounter) and others, with Lee Byung-hun and Park Hee-soon showing up for cameo appearances. The film was another international success for Kim, premiering at the Venice Film Festival before going on to tour the world, as well as winning him a long list of awards and nominations, including Best Film at the Korean Association of Film Critics' Awards.

The film takes place in the 1920s during the Japanese occupation of Korea, with Song Kang-ho as Lee Jung-chool, a police officer working for the Japanese who has been tasked with hunting down and infiltrating the Korean resistance, which he was formerly a member of. His plan to do this involves befriending Kim Woo-jin (Gong Yoo), who works as a shady art and antique dealer as a front for his resistance activities, and who he hopes will let slip their schemes. Despite the fact that the two men are fully aware of each other's real identity, they form a partnership of sorts, trying to turn the situation to their own advantage. With the vicious Japanese officer Hashimoto (Um Tae-goo) smelling a rat, things start to become more dangerous after it becomes clear that Kim's smuggling route is being prepped to transport explosives from Shanghai to Seoul as part of an attack on the Japanese, pushing Lee to decide where his loyalties lie.

The Age of Shadows is nothing if not complex, being a cat and mouse thriller where the cat and the mouse roles are interchangeable and shift frequently, ambiguous identities and character motivations abounding throughout. Kim Jee-woon, who also scripted along with Lee Ji-min and Park Jong-dae, certainly tries to pack in a great deal of drama and suspense, and the film is relentless in its twists and turns, attempting to keep the viewer guessing as to who will end up on top, or at least alive. This works well enough, to an extent, and the film succeeds in creating an atmosphere of danger and deception, with treachery never far away, and Kim does a decent job of playing on both the moralities and psychologies of his protagonists in a vaguely Hitchcockian fashion. Unfortunately, at the same time he also overplays his hand, and the film gets needlessly caught up in its own chicanery, throwing in far too many characters and subplots to keep things focused. Clocking in at two hours and twenty minutes, the film is too long to maintain its momentum and tension, partly due to a middle section which for all its cleverness is essentially filler, never really adding much to the bigger picture. Kim's earlier films, though eccentric in places, were arguably tighter and more focused, and while The Age of Shadows does eventually build to a rewarding conclusion, it's hard not to feel that the film is bloated and takes too long in getting there.

Thankfully, the stellar cast all turn in great performances, and help lift the film during some of its more ponderous stretches. Song Kang-ho is fantastic in what amounts to the lead role, reigning in his over the top persona in favour of something more nuanced, and the film’s most satisfying aspect is arguably his multi-layered portrayal of a man confused by conflicting loyalties and driven to make a series of difficult and dangerous choices. Gong Yoo is also on great form, showing his usual likeability, though with a touch of ruthlessness, and while Han Ji-min doesn’t have much to do, the script at least spares her the indignity of being an eye-candy love interest. Special mention should go to Um Tae-goo, who's a great deal of fun to watch and who seems to have a fine old time chewing the scenery as the villainous Hashimoto, keeping his turn just the right side of pantomime hysteria.

The film also benefits from some impeccable visuals, clearly having enjoyed a sizable budget, no doubt partly as a result of having been produced by Warner Bros. The sets and costumes all look incredible, and the film is both stylised and convincing in its period detail, and cinematographers Kim Ji-yong and Kim Jae-hong give the production a suitably shady and moody look and feel. Kim has proved himself many times a director comfortable with large scale set pieces, and the film has its share of spectacular moments, most notably a virtuoso sequence on a train, and these do help to inject a very welcome shot of pace now and again. Things do get bloody and violent in places, and though there's nothing here to challenge Kim's brutal I Saw the Devil, the film is definitely all the better for having a hard edge.

There's certainly a lot to like about The Age of Shadows, and it's a shame that the film is let down by its overlong running time and overcooked plotting. It's more of a step sideways than backwards for Kim Jee-woon, and doesn't do his standing as one of the best film directors working in Korea today any harm, and as a big budget, all-star blockbuster it does entertain, if not quite enthral.

by James Mudge -

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