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Christopher Webster [Film Festival 07.08.11] movie review

Year: 2011
Directors: Jun-ik Lee
Writers: Cheol-Hyeon Jo/Oh Seung-Hyeon
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 5 out of 10

With all due respect to Jun-ik Lee's wacky send-up of Asian siege and battle movies, it didn't stand a chance with me this morning. For one, I watched it right after screening Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins. A mistake in retrospect, as how could any movie follow what is perhaps the best Samurai film I've ever seen, let alone one with a completely different tone. The next big X against my enjoyment of the film is the fact that half the subtitles were cut from the version of the film I had. With its huge cast of players, this film was already confusing, so *Sighs* with those two things in mind take this mini-review with a grain of salt.

Battlefield Heroes is Lee's follow-up to his own hit 2003 hit Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield and the film takes place 8 years after when the three (or was it four?) Kingdoms continue to battle to rule all. The film begins with them all seated around a large map-table, portioning out the land and resetting borders. Tempers flare and they teams essentially decide to go to battle again and we're shown the enemy taking their game places on the table as if war was some sort of board game, played by children.

The introduction of the rival kingdoms and their characters is confusing and ultimately uninteresting, but all that changes (thank goodness) when a character called "Thingy" is introduced. Thingy is an old farmer who is taken from his wife and thrust into battle well beyond his years. He simultaneously becomes a proxy for the audience and something of the leader to his fellow soldiers. In a movie full of generals and officials he ads an important human element and grounds the film. But alas it's just not enough.

This is a mad, mad movie. I really do appreciate just how madcap it is. Between musical numbers, cross dressing some nice satire and some of the craziest over-the-top acting I've ever seen it's definitely got its own thing going on. But, between some poorly handled storytelling and a humour that just didn't work for me, something was definitely lost in translation with this one.

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