This week on stunning Bluray from writer/director Hoon-jung Park and Well Go USA Entertainment is man versus THE TIGER.
Man-duk (Min-sik Choi) is a man living on the outskirts of the local Korean village with teenage son Seok (Yoo-Bin Sung). Once a hunter, an encounter with a tiger when Seok was a baby has him now collecting herbs to make a living.
The country is under Japanese occupation and one of its high officials is looking to wipe out the tiger population. The one tiger that officials want and are having difficulty getting is the Mountain Lord, an 800 pound tiger who has killed every group that has come after him.
Now, Goo-Gyeong (Man-sik Jeong) has been brought up to the officials to gather men to hunt the tiger. Chil-goo (Sang-ho Kim) is also part of the group but these two men have something in common – their one time friendship with Man-duk.
The two men go to their one time friend to ask for help in hunting the tiger and Man-duk refuses. Chil-goo understands his reasonings but Goo-Gyeong becomes angry and as he leaves, notices that Seok is interested in the group preparing for the hunt.
The reason Seok is interested is that the one who finds and finished the tiger is promised more money than the young man has ever seen. Letting his father know that their mountain life isn’t for him, he sneaks away with the hunting party.
Man-duk is devastated that Seok has gone and the story behind the episode with the tiger all those years ago is revealed to play itself out once again.
The hunters become the hunted!
Min-sik Choi as Man-duk is absolutely stellar. This is a role that has so many layers to it that the shocking ending could only be done well by Choi. The first time I saw this actor was in the 2002 film OLDBOY and I knew then I saw seeing a fantastic performer. Once again in 2010 I would see him in the film I SAW THE DEVIL and it solidified my belief in his talent. Trust me when I say that his performance in THE TIGER deserves every bit of recognition it gets.
Jeong as Goo-Gyeong is totally on a revenge trip and his face shows the reason why. Feeling that he is justified in everything he does, it includes sacrificing others in order to get close to the thing he hates the most. Kim as Chil-goo is caught in the middle of both of his friends. He feels totally for friend Man-duk and understands why he doesn’t want to hunt the tiger but on the other hand he enjoys following Goo-Gyeong until things start to get out of control.
Sung as Seok is a young man coming into his own. He wants to be part of the town life and marry the girl he is in love with but can’t get away from his father. Jung Suk Won as Officer Ryu is in charge of helping the Japanese officer get the tiger he desperately wants, even if he doesn’t agree with how it’s done. Ren Osugi as Official Maezono is a deranged man who only sees the tiger as a trophy and not what its costing in lives to get it.
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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE TIGER four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is a brilliantly told story from start to finish and coming in at 140 minutes there isn’t a moment that shouldn’t be on Bluray. The cinematography wraps itself around each character and even the tiger truly drew me into every aspect of the telling.
The film is wrapped in such intricate layers that are only given out in tiny pieces as they become important to the decisions each character makes. Man-duk is the main character but even his story is filled with sadness and secrets that stretch to both other men and a beast.
That being said, each of the characters, including Seok has the same sadness and secrets which are just as shocking. I believe that’s what makes this film so epic as writer/director Park Hoon-Jung took the time to embrace every nuance and make it important to the telling.
The best part of THE TIGER is that I’m weaving around it all because I don’t want to give a single minute of the film away. This is a film that is truly worth every moment of watching – undisturbed! I had that opportunity and don’t regret it for a single solitary second. Now it’s your turn by picking up THE TIGER on Bluray this week.
In the end – nothing or no one will stop the Mountain Lord!