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War of The Arrows

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War of The Arrows

This had been showing up on my Netflix queue for a while now. It is not the typical martial arts movie in that it features archery primarily. Set during a Manchu invasion of Korea, it tells the story of a brother whose only goal is to rescue his sister from Manchurian raiders. The second half of the movie is basically one long chase scene with different characters becoming predator, prey, and back again. While I think most of my students would enjoy the story from an "action movie" perspective, there are some interesting moments from a more academic place.

1. The primary love story of the movie exists between an elder brother, Nam-yi, and his younger sister, Ja-in, who he has sworn to protect. There are a few scenes in particular that illustrate a dedication to family that is uncommon in most western action movies. The younger sister also exhibits examples of Confucian thought and focus on family during a pivotal scene.
2. Confucian ideology runs through the plot. Whether it's a father admonishing his sons for brawling and drinking or an older brother disapproving of a marriage because of the shame it would bring the parents of the groom, there are many examples. I'm reminded of the comment in class that the longest lasting Confucian empire came from Korea.
3. Several times throughout the movie there are statements made suggesting an almost pan-Asian perspective. One is the comparison between bows that is made by one of the warrior characters; a common antecedent between the protagonist's and antagonist's weapons is made. While the dialogue is spoken in two languages, a few of the main characters are bilingual.
4. The Manchurian characters, members of the Qing Dynasty, are obviously the antagonists, but not wholly unsympathetic. They are introduced as raiders, but aren't presented as a faceless horde. I can't help but wonder if the historical moment portrayed in the film expresses some current political issues that South Koreans have with their neighbors to the north and China.

While the movie isn't terribly gory by American standards, there are quite a few pretty intense moments of violence. I'd hesitate to show the movie in its entirety, but there are definitely moments that make this a wonderful movie that works on quite a few levels beyond the typical action movie.

Dennis O'Connell
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Topic Posts: 4
War of the Arrows

The War of the Arrows involves a brother who has been sworn by his soon-to-die father to protect his sister.  His first job to protect her is to flee from the scene where his father has been killed, despite the wailings of his sister who wants to go back.  The rest of the movie is set when they are older and the sister is ready to wed.  During the wedding ceremony, however, Manchu raiders come and take the sister prisoner.  The brother, who sees the raiders coming from a hilltop, rushes back.  He pursues the raiding party.  Back and forth the fighting goes, with arrows being the primary weapons.  The movie ends climatically with the three main characters in the same field, facing off.  Difficult choices have to be made based on how confident the men feel in their arrow shooting abilities and the craftmanship of the arrows themselves.  

Besides the fidelity of a brother to his sister, I am having difficulties coming up with any ways I could use clips from this movie in my elementary school classroom.  For older (high school students), I could see a study of this historical period in Asia being enhanced by the period dress and arrow markmanship, but for younger students the content is too gory.  

Marcos Rico
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War of the Arrows.

I was looking in here for a good recomendation for an Asian movie to watch on Netflix. Your review of the movie seems to fit the bill. It is a period movie with lots of action, Manchu raiders and marksmakship. Seem like my teenage sons might enjoy it, especially the gory parts. Unfortunately, I do not seem to have find it on Netflix. Oh, well I will have too keep on looking.