When a lethal sniper from a North Korean terrorist group threatens to sabotage national peace efforts with a high tech bomb, it is up to two South Korean special intelligence agents to stop her. — Genre: Foreign Film - Othe... more »r
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 02/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was excited about having a chance to watch this movie; after all, Shiri became South Korea's most successful and most-watched film of all time, surpassing even the mighty Titanic. It seems only right that a Korean film should hold the box office record in South Korea. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from Shiri; I knew it was an action film involving a deadly female assassin from North Korea and that the plot revolved in some way around the idea of Korean unification, but that was the extent of my knowledge going in. Shiri definitely delivers, offering up heaping platefuls of suspense, action, and gritty violence; it also, much to its credit, carries an emotional payload of love, friendship, betrayal, duty, all of the angst that surrounds the question of unification. The special effects are well done (Shiri had a budget of only five million dollars, but that qualifies as a big budget in Korean cinema), the cinematography is beautiful, and the overall presentation of the film serves to touch the viewer in any number of ways.I do have to admit that I found parts of the film somewhat confusing, especially early on; I also had trouble keeping some of the characters straight in my mind. I think this is explained by my American viewpoint and the fact that I could not devote all of my attention to the events on the screen as I had to depend on subtitles to follow the dialogue. Additionally, the whole theme of reunification obviously doesn't impact me the way it would a Korean audience. Even I can see how ambitious and daring the plot of this film was, though; this is truly a film borne out of the very soul of Korea. Hee is North Korea's most infamous assassin, and as the movie opens, she seems to have reappeared for the first time in a year. South Korean special agents Ryu and Lee have been charged with the task of ending her reign of terror; this is no easy job, as she has left a trail of very important corpses right under their noses for years. As it turns out, Hee is not working alone now, and this only complicates things. Working alongside her now is a special, seemingly rogue element of the North Korean military. This group manages to steal a number of containers of a new super-incendiary device called CTX, and they stash these awful weapons throughout the metropolis of Seoul. These revolutionaries make demands that cannot be met, but their true goal is only made manifest in the final stages of the film. Against this backdrop, you have a highly visible cultural joining of both Koreas in the form of a soccer game in Seoul, the symbolism of which is made most obvious by the mutual attendance of the leaders of both Koreas. For special agents Ryu and Lee, the job of finding and eliminating the infamous Hee takes on incredibly emotional dimensions neither man could ever have anticipated, and it is on this highly personal level that the true heart of the movie plays out.A 1999 film offering two distinct ideas about Korean reunification was definitely a risk for South Korean filmmaker Kang Je-Gyu. Of course, the greater the risk, the larger the possible reward, and this film proved the very opposite of divisive. South Koreans flocked to see Shiri, it is said that North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il arranged to see a stolen copy of it, and the South Korean government itself treated foreign diplomats to a free screening of this historic block-buster. Those who crave action and realistic violence will find much to their liking here, but it is Shiri's surprisingly powerful emotional impact that really sets the film apart as something special."
Hollywood needs to pay attention to this movie!!
Brainy Babe | Missouri | 07/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Explosions and car chases...check. Intrigue and espionage...check. Romance...check. Requires a brain to watch...check. This is quite possibly the smartest and most well-rounded action movie in the history of action movies. I loved it. The plot is interesting and makes you see the North Korea/South Korea conflict from a different perspective. (I told you it's smart.) The action leaves you breathless. Normally, I don't like romance in my action movies because it's usually just a cheap attempt to get a woman's top off and a few seconds of sex. The romance in this movie, however, is understated and appropriate. (I never thought I would write something like that in a review of an ACTION movie.) I do have one piece of advice for viewing Shiri: watch it in its native language with English subtitles. Under no circumstances should you listen to the dubbed English soundtrack. It is disappointing and disgusting to see the actors on screen giving it their all while their voices sound like they're watching paint dry. There are several extras, but the music video "When I dream" is the best of them. The song is absolutely beautiful, not to mention heartbreaking. (I even bought a CD by the singer, Carol Kidd, after watching this movie.) For anyone who thinks action movies can't be entertaining and brainy or who still think Godzilla is the true measure of foreign films, watch Shiri. You won't be disappointed."
If one dies, the other one passes away also.
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 10/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the year 1999 the film that dominated most East Asian film markets was James Cameron's Titanic which would go on to be the highest grossing film of all time. However, in South Korea the film that was number one at the box office was Shiri, an action-packed film that would go on to set South Korean box office records and force the Hollywood juggernaut to take notice that films produced in other countries could compete with the likes of Titanic. In the end 1/7 of South Korea's entire population would go to the theater to watch Shiri and it also received accolades in other Asian countries and helped revitalize the South Korean film industry whose government imposed that South Korean films had to be shown at least 106 days a year so that it could compete with foreign films and it also put on the road to stardom Choi Min-sik and Han Suk-kyu.
Shiri opens with scene after scene of the brutal training endured by those who wish to become members of the 8th Division, an elite force of North Korean Commandos. Amongst these individuals is a young woman named Lee Bang-hee who not only surpasses her male counterparts in fighting skills, but who is unmatched in her marksmanship. With her weapon of choice she perfectly severs the spinal cord with one shot and obliterates the heart with the next. Surviving her training, Bang-hee is sent to South Korea and assassinates several important political figures until suddenly disappearing. However, one day she returns and seems to be up to her old tricks again. Two special agents are assigned to her case, Yu Jongwon and Lee Janggil; however, she continues to foil them time after time. While searching for Bang-hee who has recently assassinated an arms dealer and a scientist who were working together under the table, Yu and Lee soon learn that the 8th division led by their old nemesis Park Mu-young is plotting to steal a new weapon called CMX which is ten times stronger than an average bomb, liquid, and virtually undetectable and are unable to stop Park when he successfully does steal the CMX. Park calls the agency and informs them that ten sites in Seoul are set to be destroyed by the 8th Division. If this scenario wasn't bad enough, it is taking place right at the same time the leaders of both South and North Korea are planning to attend a soccer match in which the North and the South play each other.
Combining action, romance, and melodrama Shiri is quite an engaging film that can be appreciated on many different levels. Due to its success a number of clones were produced that did not quite live up to the original, but they helped revamp the slumping South Korean film industry to show the world that blockbusters do not only originate in Hollywood.
Designer kitten =^-^=
=^-^= designer kitten=^-^= | Australia | 05/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
Dubbed by the local press as the 'small fish that sank Titanic', "Shiri (Swiri)" is the most successful film in South Korean box office history.visuals rivaling both Hollywood and Hong Kong action movies, the star power of popular Korean actors Han Suk-kyu ("Christmas in August") and Choi Min-shik, and a story centered around the continuing Cold War tensions between North and South Korea, this espionage action-thriller easily won over domestic audiences when it was released in 1999. "Shiri" also marked a turning point in the evolution of South Korean cinema.That said, the film's action sequences are rather fun to watch, and probably the film's only saving grace. Though the film was made for a paltry $5 million US (which is six times the typical budget for a typical Korean feature), the production values, particularly in the action department, are top-notch.So if you like action films then you will love this film.I give it 5stars because its one better action movies i have seen in good while."
Great action movie with an excellent story!
Sean McGrath | MA USA | 03/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though the movie opens with some very violent training scenes, which may turn some people off to the movie, once you get beyond that, it has an excellent, though in some cases cliche, plot, well played roles, with good characters, and is nicely paced. Though certain parts struck me as fairly predictable, that happens a lot with movies (as well as books), so I tend to ignore the predictability and enjoy the story. If you like action movies with a story, as opposed to action movies with just action going for them, I would highly recommend this movie."