November 11, 2010

Saulabi: I Only Regret That I Have But One Head to Get Decapitated for My Country

According to legend though refuted by Wikipedia, the "saulabi" is the Korean antecedent of the Japanese samurai. Fact or fiction, this continental counterpart to Japan's noble warrior comes with an identical code of honor demanding duty, loyalty, and -- if the movie that bears its name is any indication -- a great deal of patience, too. A clunky recounting of yet another war of independence in which a ragtag group of Korean underdogs must overpower a larger group of tyrannical Japanese, this martial arts costume drama celebrates, in particular, the revolutionary diligence of expatriate Woo-do (Sang Hyun-lee) who must work for decades at forging a sword so powerful that it will cut through steel. Once he's done that, he knows (as does everyone around him) that victory will be assured. But until then, heads will roll because even blades that can't cut through steel nevertheless can cut through the vertebrae that connects the head to the torso. While pursuing his career-making goal as a sword smith, Woo-do makes a little time for play and ends up bedding local girl Osame (Uenemya Masako) who, lucky for him, will do anything to learn how to play the Gayageum -- basically a zither. For some girls, mastering the Koto just isn't enough.

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