I haven’t posted in a long time so I thought I’d post something new about something old.
Musa (or the Warrior as the english title goes) is a pretty damned good movie. Unfortunately it was released back in 2001 and hasn’t aged very well. The screens are blurry, camera action isn’t great and while the coloring may have been cool back in that time, films like ‘Hero’ have just done it better. But one thing it does have going for it is high production value (for an Asian film) and an all-star Chinese-Korean cast that would be difficult to contend with.
The story takes place in 1375 during a time when the Koryo Dynasty (Korea) was trying to patch things up with the Ming dynasty (China) after a Chinese envoy sent to Korea was slain. Also during this time, Mongolian raiders have been attacking Chinese caravans and pillaging their way through the other provinces. The film follows a small political envoy sent from Korea (Koryo as it was known at the time) to China to improve relations with the current emperor.
Things don’t go as planned when the envoy are accused of being spies the second they get there and are marched off to a desert prison. After the patrol is attacked by a Mongol unit, the Mongols leave the prisoners in the desert to fend for themselves. What’s left of the original envoy makes it to a settlement and is surprised to see a Ming princess in the capture of a Mongol army. Seeing this as the only way to recoup their original mission of improving ties between China and Korea, they rescue the princess and attempt to return her to the emperor.
It isn’t the hardest story to follow although the variety of versions of the movie make it difficult to figure out which one would be the easiest to watch. I bought the Korean version from Bestbuy when I was in high school and while that one was easy enough for me to understand, supposedly the Hong Kong version adds a few scenes here and there which may not be enough to change the story but can open open up some of the reasoning behind character actions.
It really is a character driven film with the story being enough to bring these characters together. And while the film focuses on the general son charged with protecting the envoy, the envoy head’s slave, and the Ming princess they’ve decided to save the other characters in the story are given enough screen time to leave nothing for want.
Woo-sung Jung (Athena: Goddess of War, The Good, the Bad, the Wierd, pictured to the right) is decent as the slave protecting his master and Jin-mo Ju (200 Pound Beauty, pictured above) isn’t really at his best as the General’s headstrong son but honestly I have to say that one of the more interesting (and surprising) appearances is Zhang Ziyi (Rush Hour 2, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, pictured above) as the Ming princess who’s been kidnapped. Even the supporting cast has more than a few stars, notably Rongguang Yu (Iron Monkey, the Karate Kid) as the Mongol General after everyone’s head. After watching Rush Hour 2 and CTHD, I was expecting her to play ore of a fighter’s role in all this but she’s simply the damsel in distress and plays it pretty well.
As this was a Chinese – Korean coop movie, with the exception of a few characters the rest can either speak Korean or Chinese. Either way, most people are going to need subtitles to watch this film. Besides that, the film does drag at some points and does have scenes that seem overly dramatic (along with a few other Asian film stereotypes) but all in all, Musa isn’t likely to top anyone’s all time list but it’s definitely going to in there as it is a great movie to watch. If it weren’t why would I devote a post to it?