A long time ago in Korea, The Emperor sends his Royal Seal by boat to signify the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty. The boat is viciously attacked by a whale and it swallows the Seal. There is a substantial reward for whoever kills the whale and recovers the valuable item. The reward sparks the interest of both a group of bandits and pirates who are in a race to get it first. The bandits are lead by an old soldier named Jang Sa-jung who goes his own way and the pirates are lead by a tough-as-nails female captain, Son Ye-jin. They are strong leaders, but the groups that they command might make it tough to get to the whale first.
THE PIRATES is a Korean film that is lightly based on historical events, but with obvious exaggeration. It’s a high-action film with some amazing fight scenes. The choreography is smooth and executed perfectly. In my opinion, one of the best scenes in the entire film includes an aqueduct and a little CGI. I feel like the film used a few CGI companies in post because there are some scenes that look really good and some that could use a bit more polishing. The movie uses some light comedy, but it’s more like comic relief than some of the slapstick that is seen in Asian cinema.
Critically, THE PIRATES has been quite the contender. It was nominated for 14 different awards between four award shows. These include wins for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. The film has also done some amazing numbers by becoming the third Korean film to reach 5-million admissions.
Overall, it’s a really good movie. It has a plot that’s not too complicated and, like I said earlier, has great action. The acting is also top notch and I really like that the movie doesn’t convey the story with only the dialogue. The actors use a lot of facial expressions to easily figure out what’s happening.
Kim Nam-gil as Jang Sa-jung
Son Ye-jin as Yeo-wol
Yoo Hae-jin as Cheol-bong
Lee Geung-young as So-ma
Oh Dal-su as Han Sang-jil
Kim Tae-woo as Mo Heung-gap
The 1080p video transfer of THE PIRATES is good, but it’s not without a few flaws. The highly detailed and clear images are a part of what makes the movie look good in Blu-ray. For the most part, the coloring looks natural, but there is a blue hue that is an issue that is consistent throughout the film. It’s the most obvious when someone is smiling or when something on the screen should be a bright white, but is baby blue. Also, in some of the close-ups, the blue is seen in the skin tones. It may seem like an issue that would be easy to overlook, but it’s very hard to ignore.
The only audio track on the release is a Korean DTS-HD MA 5.1 and it sounds pretty good. The mix has no issues using surround sound when it’s needed. The sound is heard in every speaker, but it’s missing directionality. There are scenes where effects should sweep across the home theater, but they don’t. The treble is clear, but it’s heavily depended on due to lack of strong bass. The same scene I mentioned earlier with the aqueduct should have bass in the explosion and when the structure collapses.
There are actually no real extras on the release. There is only a theatrical trailer and Well Go USA previews. I was hoping that an award-winning film like this would have some footage from The Cannes Film Festival or other award shows.
Single Blu-ray Disc
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Korean Stereo 2.0
THE PIRATES is a fun movie that keeps an even balance of action and comedy. The plot is excellent and even heartfelt at times. The filmography is beautiful, but the audio could be a bit stronger. Also, the lack of extras was a little disappointing for a film that has done as well as it has. I would recommend picking this up on the movie alone.