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(Movie Review) 'The Pirates,' swashbuckler with delightful action, quality visual effects

Movies 16:32 January 13, 2022

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- The upcoming Korean fantasy adventure "The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure" is a typical fun and exciting pirate film that features the life of pirates with a ship, a crew and the wide, wild ocean without regard for the rules. It does not miss the dream of discovering buried treasure, as its subtitle says, along with mystery and supernatural occurrences.

It is a sequel to 2014's hit blockbuster "The Pirates," starring Son Ye-jin, Kim Nam-gil and Yoo Hae-jin, which attracted 8.6 million moviegoers with a star-studded cast and humor.

This image provided by Lotte Entertainment shows a scene from "The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Set in the late 14th century when the Joseon Dynasty replaced the Goryeo Dynasty, the movie starts as Muchi (Kang Ha-neul), a bandit leader, and his gangs are rescued by pirate captain Haerang (Han Hyo-joo) and her crew.

While seizing a Japanese pirate ship, Haerang and Muchi are informed of a rumor that tons of royal treasures from the collapsed Goryeo Dynasty are concealed somewhere over the dangerous thunderbolt island. The two leaders join hands to search for the fabled riches.

But their journey to obtain the jewels is not rosy and calm, as Bu Heung-soo (Kwon Sang-woo), a militant rebel who dreams of becoming the king of a southern island with the fortune, disturbs them.

The two forces clash on their way to the treasure island, constantly offering amazing ship battles, swordfights, bloody struggles against a heavy sea or unseen monsters, and even some romance.

This image provided by Lotte Entertainment shows a scene from "The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

"The Pirates" is not far from a predictable and palpable film, as it has so many tropes and cliches that can be seen in Hollywood pirate movies, like the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.

But it has enough twists and creative moments that are far better portrayed by quality visual effects than those from its 2014 predecessor.

The underwater sequences where the pirate crew swims through a group of small jellyfish to find a mysterious treasure map are colorful and bright enough to look like a fantasy animation.

The computer-generated thunderbolt island, a huge wave that almost capsizes Haerang's ship and waterspout-like fire pillars are also worth watching.

The performances of the actors complete the action-packed pirate movie. The last swordfight between Muchi and Bu Heung-soo under flashes of lightning is one of the highlights of the film.

Han Hyo-joo performs many challenging stunts in the rare female-fronted pirate film, proving that Haerang is not just a good-natured female caption, but also a highly-skilled fighter.

Lee Kwang-soo, a clumsy pirate who wants to become the captain of the rover, provides comfortable comedic and slapstick sequences that help "The Pirates" create the swashbuckling atmosphere and likely become solid family entertainment for the Lunar New Year holiday that starts on Jan. 29.

"The Pirates" will hit local screens on Jan. 26.

This image provided by Lotte Entertainment shows a poster of "The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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