Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

The Gator ain't no fan of chop-socky Asian martial arts movies. You could run off a list of any of the 1000 films Jet Li made before going to America and I'd say, "Um...Kiss of the Dragon?" So, that's how bad my knowledge and devotion is. It was surprising therefore to discover that Arahan is actually a very funny and very exciting movie that zips along loud, fast and funny.

Sang-Hwan is a lowly beat cop. He's clumsy, accident prone and bumbles more than the average bee. He doesn't believe he has any special powers, but when he makes friends with a group of five old masters, they recognise his potential and recruits him to help preserve the balance of the world from evil... or something. Which is great timing, because an ancient bad guy has come out of a long, long hibernation to seek the key to the ultimate nirvana and spread order over the whole world... or something.

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Yes, it's gobbledegook. In fact, it's alarmingly similar to Bulletproof Monk, only not total crap. There are loads of laughs to be had. Arahan has a great sense of comic timing and the ability to jump from silly gags to serious action in just a few seconds.

When it comes to plain old hands-and-feet fighting, Hollywood movies seem to be lacking of late. It's all CGI and spandex. Eye candy it may be, but it's good to see something filled with practical fighting effects, despite the final showdown going on a bit.

The one bad thing that costs it half a star is the nasty Eighties synthesized score. Doesn't Korea have anything better than those shoddy Yamaha keyboards that I used in music class at high school? Hell, I could do better myself.

You can criticise the film for being mindless - hey, just because it's subtitled doesn't mean it's artsy fartsy - but for two hours of fun, Arahan will do nicely.

Reviewed on: 27 Aug 2004
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Comedy chop-socky with serious martial arts moves from South Korea.
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Director: Ryoo Seung-wan

Writer: Eun Ji-hie, Ryoo Seung-wan, Yu Seon-dong

Starring: Ryoo Seung-bum, Yun Soy, Ahn Sung-ki, Jung Doo-hong, Yon Ju-sang

Year: 2004

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: South Korea

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