Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 17th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: South Korea, 2015
Director: Heung-Sik Park
Writers: Ah-reum Choi, Heung-Sik Park
Cast: Byung-hun Lee, Go-eun Kim, Do-yeon Jeon, Kyeong-yeong Lee, Jun-Ho Lee, Tae-woo Kim, Soo-bin Bae, Soo-an Kim
BluRay released: January 5th, 2016
Approximate running time: 121 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Korean, Dolby Digital Stereo Korean
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Memories of the Sword was co-written and directed by Heung-Sik Park whose other notable films include, I Wish I Had a Wife and My Mother the Mermaid. Key collaborators on Memories of the Sword include, cinematographer Byung-seo Kim (In My End is My Beginning, Dangerous Liaisons) and composer Mowg (I Saw the Devil).
The opening setup revolves around three warriors and their attempt to help the people overthrow the government. And though these opening events are often referred too throughout the film, this part of the narrative serves more a back-story for what is this film’s true protagonist, a young woman named Seol-hee whose father was the legendary warrior that was betrayed by the other two legendary warriors. From there the plot reveals that one of these two warriors who betrayed her father has been raising her as their own daughter. And when the day finally arrives she is told by this person of her origins and who her enemies are.
Content wise, this film covers familiar territory, oppressive governments, rebellions, betrayal and revenge. And when it comes to the narrative there are no real surprises to the story at hand. Also when it comes to the protagonist character she follows an all too familiar path which even features the obligatory training sequence and final showdown that often defies logic. Another short coming is that this films spends too much time in regards to exposition. When this film is clearly at its bests during the more action oriented moments. With this film’s standout moment being a scene where blind swords-woman named Seol-rang is ambushed by about two dozen fighters sent to silence her. Unable to see her enemies, this scene empathizes how she use her other senses.
Performance wise the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles. With Byung-hun Lee (The Good, the Bad, the Weird, Mascaraed) in the role of Deok-gi and Do-yeon Jeon in the role of Seol-rang. These are the two warriors that betray the protagonists father.Also these two characters are polar opposites with Deok-gi being a power hungry persona that wants to rule the kingdom, while Seol-rang has spent her life since that faithful day feeling guilty. The scenes which these two actors interact are without the strongest moments in the film and both actors more then hold their own during fight scenes. Another performance of note is Go-eun Kim (Coin Locker Girl) in the role of this film’s protagonist named Seol-hee.
Memories of the Sword comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Though this film has a distinctive look that was created in post-production. Colors and flesh tones look accurate. And outside of a few shots the image generally looks crisp. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Korean and a Dolby Digital stereo Korean. Of course the DTS-HD 5.1 mix is the more dynamic of the two. Both audio mixes sound clear, balanced and robust when they need too. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release are limited to a trailer for the film and trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall Memories of the Sword gets a solid audio / video presentation.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.