Failing to notch a polished recipe for an action-adventure film, I would give “The Pirates” a mediocre rating because of its shallow storyline. It could be easily overlooked given the riveting fight scenes and the amusing characters that have played their roles to the fullest, but I really felt something inadequate when the movie ended. Sailing to a dallying pace when it begins, it laid down the pirate members and mountain marauders who were in the quest to claim the bounty offered after Joseon envoys lost the Imperial Seal bequeathed by the Chinese Ming Dynasty to a big whale which swallowed it. Halfway through the movie, the alliances, the old grudges and the conflicts were set into motion pushing the film to a moderately swift movement while throwing bordering-slapstick-funny-anyway comical reliefs.
Far from her usual crying or love struck face, I was so happy seeing Son Ye Jin in her smoky-eyes and her no-nonsense swagger while wielding her sword, shooting arrows and drawing stunts against wily men-pirates who wanted to take down her crew and ship. That has made her in equal footing with Kim Nam Gil in his portrayal of a skilled Jack Sparrow-ish brawling hero, yet ironically poor in scheming combat strategies, hence relying on his underlings to plan their attacks. Their on-screen chemistry did not blossom with hugs and kisses but with fights and locked arms, nevertheless it was endearing just the same.
I can’t help but compare this movie to the famed Hollywood “Pirates of the Caribbean” production and the Korean film “The Grand Heist”, both I enjoyed hugely owing to the proportional blend of explosive bout scenes and quaintly narrated storyline. “The Pirates” belong to the not so gritty type of action film ergo it need to just establish a delightful film filled with well-executed scuffles. That I think was achieved enough albeit the hollow plot… And yes, I haven’t fully moved on when I think of why they pushed the irrelevant presence of mommy and baby whale in an effort to draw a lame connection to the main conflict and the lead girl. If not for the sleek duels and lively canned special effects to spice up the bandits’ escapades, I would have not stayed afloat.
On a strong note, I can’t help but notice how this film just proved that Korean film-makers are catching up fast, if not on the same level now, in terms of the delivery of the visual techniques in a fast-paced action flick with their Hollywood counterparts. Also, unlike some of the Asian brewed battle-induced motion pictures I saw, they have a stronger grasp of depicting historical fiction chronicle that can be understood by a wide audience even with the cultural barrier. It was a simple narrative (too usual to a fault though) that was salvaged by fusing well the struggles and success of the characters and betting on the tried and tested underdog theme. Even though there are minor out of place scenes in the course of the movie, I can say that it’s still an exciting watch not just for men, but for women who want a light, and stimulating movie experience. -jediprincess