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May 13, 2003

"Something witty."

Directed by: Young-jun Kim
Starring: Hyeon-jun Shin, Hee-seon Kim, Jin-young Jeong

Bichunmoo (aka Flying Warriors) is a South Korean fantasy martial arts flick that combines Crouching Tiger-esque forbidden romance with flying ninjas.

Well, they’re not actually ninjas, they are the flying warriors of the title but they act just like ninjas and are dressed exactly like the three ninjas in Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart At The River Styx so I will just refer them as flying ninjas.

Anyway, Bichunmoo begins with a flying ninja attack on a Yuan (decendants of the Mongols) camp where they flip out and kill everyone. One guy in particular called Jinha shows off an awesome sword move where he drags his weapon across the ground and then swings it up, where it releases a semi-circle of fury that can rip people in two. This sets up the rest of the story (some spoilers in the next two paragraphs).

It turns out that Jinha and his fake uncle were the only survivors of a vicious Yuan attack that killed his parents who were masters of the awesome Bichun martial arts (see above). As Jinha begins to learn the skill, he falls in love with the daughter of a Yuan General, only to have her taken away when she is betrothed to some other guy who kicks rear end with a paper fan.

Eventually Jinha duels the guy only to dissappear and come back many years later as the leader of the flying ninja squadron who are part of a force to free Korea but then there’s all these politics and betrayals and some other woman and that guy from Volcano High and the General still wants the secret of the Bichun arts and so on.

This is the main problem with the movie, in that what would’ve worked brilliantly as a simple story of forbidden love and getting her back becomes convoluted with a number of sub-plots and new characters who are introduced without exposition. This is compounded by a time-jumping narrative that fails to add transitions, visual markers or at least captions to denote passage of time. At one point, it took me a good few minutes to realise that we had jumped forward some fifteen years because the only difference was that the main character had longer hair.

But aside from that, the rest of the film is put together very well, with lots of well-choreographed and violent sword fighting, though most encounters are presented in a jerky, quick cutting MTV-inspired style. The cinematography does its job but was nothing special (Hero spoiled me), as were the handful of CG effects, which were on par with the work in The Storm Riders.

However, as expected the best scenes in the whole film were the awesome but brief flying ninja attacks, where it appeared that the cinematography and editing just got better in order to showcase the sheer awesomeness of a mob of flying ninjas leaping across rooftops and rising in formation above an apex of a pagoda. And to top it off, in sharp contrast to the film’s rather good “traditional” period film score, these scenes are punctuated by a rocking heavy metal piece that somehow seems so appropriate to the scene.

Ultimately, after intially peaking my interest with an excellently cut trailer, Bichunmoo was a film that I really, really wanted to love. However, the inherent problems in the narrative just keep it from being so.

So watch it for the flying ninja scenes, and not that much else.


PROS: Flying Ninjas.
CONS: Convoluted, confusing narrative.


mrkillboy fucked around with this message at 13:19 on May 4, 2004


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