The age of Shadows (Mil-Jeong)

Kim Jee-Woon

South Korea, 2016 / 140 min / Korean, Japanese, Mandarin and English OV with English subtitles / Drama, Thriller

A historical epic set in 1920’s in Korea portraying the political resistance against Japanese colonisation.

Set in the late 1920s, "The Age of Shadows" follows the cat-and-mouse game that unfolds between a group of resistance fighters trying to bring in explosives from Shanghai to destroy key Japanese facilities in Seoul, and Japanese agents trying to stop them. A talented Korean-born Japanese police officer, who was previously in the independence movement himself, is thrown into a dilemma between the demands of his reality and the instinct to support a greater cause.


Korea has been showing the rest of the world the way in genre movies for quite some time now, but Kim’s brilliant film is the textbook definition of how to make a dense, historically inspired story into a pulse-pounding, crowd-pleasing thriller without sacrificing any of the smarts. (Jessica Kiang, The Play List)


“In “The Age of Shadows” every scene is a movie.” Jessica Kiang, The Playlist


“The irresistible pull of a spy thriller, the heightened stylishness of a 1920s setting, and terrific technical specs make “The Age of Shadows” an unabashed delight. (…) Unfolding in classic action style, this rousing gem has everything one wants for an evening’s entertainment: no wonder South Korea chose it for its Oscar candidate.” Jay Weissberg, Variety, 02/09/2016


“A filmmaker as attuned to detail and process as a watchmaker, Kim Jee-woon allows the machinations to build up and play out in inexorable yet unpredictable fashion. The centerpiece of “The Age of Shadows” is a long, glorious sequence in which all the principal characters find themselves on a train to Seoul, their various agendas and alliances shifting at every moment as they move between carriages. With its brutal, close-quarters action choreography and its steadily intensifying suspense — you may be reminded of Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie, if not James Bond — the sequence is a tour de force in a movie that, minute by vise-like minute, proves worthy of the same designation. (…)  A connoisseur of screen violence who can make even his famous countrymen Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook look timid by comparison, Kim Jee-woon has curbed but not sacrificed those grisly impulses here, as the arterial gushers and close-ups of severed digits will attest. But nothing in this gratifyingly focused movie feels excessive or gratuitous, and a situation that repeatedly threatens to spiral out of control is dramatized with the utmost assurance.” Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 22/09/2016

  • Best Film - Korean Association of Film Critics Awards – 2016 (South Korea)
  • Best Music - Korean Association of Film Critics Awards – 2016 (South Korea)
  • Best supporting actor – Grand Bell Awards – 2016 (South Korea)
  • Best art design – Grand Bell Awards – 2016 (South Korea)
Cast & Credits
Byung-hun Lee, Yoo Gong, Kang-ho Song, Ji-min Han, Hee-soon Park, Sang-hee Lee
Kim Jee-Woon
Kim Ji-yong
Grimm Pictures, Warner Bros. Korea, Harbin Films

Kim Jee-Won started out directing theater, but has worked with increasing levels of success in cinema, showing accomplished acting and a detailed stylization in his films. In 2003, “A Tale of Two Sisters” won several awards in international festivals. “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” was shown out of competiton in Cannes (2008). In 2010 Kim directed the thriller “I Saw the Devil”, which was a box office and critical success. His next film was his US debut “The Last Stand” (2013), featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

  • 2016 - The Age of Shadows
  • 2013 - The Last Stand
  • 2010 - I saw the Devil
  • 2008 - The Good, the Bad, the Weird
  • 2005 - A Bittersweet Life
  • 2003 - A Tale of two sisters
  • 2002 - Three (short)
  • 2002 - Coming Out (short)
  • 2000 - The Foul King
  • 1998 - The Quiet Family