Starring: Shin Hyun-Joon, Kim Hee-Sun
Directed by: Kim Young-Joon
Running Time: 120 mins.
Language: Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Chinese, Simplified Chinese

Medieval Korea. The Mongolians rule Asia, in conflict with the Hans (Chinese) and the Koryo (Korean). After his parents are murdered, Jinha (Shin), a Koryo peasant, is raised by his uncle. Uncle teaches him the secret art of Bichunmoo, a coveted martial arts technique wanted by pretty much EVERYONE. During this time, he and Sullie, the daughter of a Mongolian General's concubine, grow up together and fall in love.

Sullie's father is re-commissioned and decides to take her with him. Jinha cannot follow, as he is a lowly Koryo. After time, he learns the real reason for his parents' death. He and Sullie decide to make a run for it and are caught by Sullie's suitor. A fight ensues and Jinha falls over a cliff, presumed dead, while Sullie ends up marrying the suitor. All is not lost, for Jinha survives and emerges 10 years later as an assassin named Jahalang, ready to take revenge for himself and his family.

The awareness towards Asian cinema today focuses on the Hong Kong movie industry. With icons such as John Woo, Chow Yun Phat, Michelle Yeoh, and Jackie Chan starring in U.S. productions, and more recently with the wide-eye acceptance of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Asian cinema is taking the States by storm. However, as most of us fanboys on the planet already know, Hong Kong action flicks are nothing new. CTHD is not ground-breaking. We have been watching Chinese actors climb walls, traverse rooftops, and fly like superheroes for many, many moons.

What is new? Korean cinema. And you know what? It is a good thing. Yes, Bichunmoo is a Korean movie. In fact, one of the biggest budgeted Korean movies ever made, and it shows. The production value is top-notch while the set pieces and costumes are wonderfully developed. To add on top of that, the cinematography is superb. This is a beautiful movie starring beautiful people with beautiful swordplay to complement an old, but beautiful love story.

Bichunmoo, however, is a long movie and it feels that way at points. Because the storyline is very involved, the transitions in the movie seem abrupt at times, with the filmmakers expecting you to draw conclusions and fill in the blanks. More time should have been devoted to Jinha's recovery, and to developing the love relationship between him and Sullie. You definitely get the idea that they love each other, but if the love aspect was stressed even more, this movie would deserve a second watching immediately after the first. This is, after all, a love story with kick-ass martial arts.

Many will compare this movie with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and that is fine as they are both very similar. Bichunmoo, however, is not riddled with Ang Lee's sensitivity. What you get instead are a lot more action scenes. Korean movie industry, we are watching you!

How much is it worth? Bichunmoo is a must-have and is worth anything you have to pay for it.

Where to buy: $22.46 (widescreen PREORDER) $19.99 (fullscreen version)

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