The entire movie is based on real events. Chung has done an excellent job writing the script, almost entirely based on press reports, interview , records and court documents (slightly embellished them, which caused some controversy in Korea). While the first trials were relatively objective, and the judge hid his bias, later they became so blatantly biased that the public was outraged.
15th January 2007, professor of mathematics Kim Myung-Ho, armed with a crossbow went to the block where lived a judge Park Hong-Woo. He planned to threat judge to make him apologize for the unfair judgment in his case. The whole thing started with trivialities. Kim found an error in the task (which was written by one of his co-workers) that was on the entrance exam. For pointing out the error he was expelled from the university. The whole thing ended up in court, resulting in several cases that have been resolved to the disadvantage of Kim Myung-Ho, who believed that the judge was biased. The injustice that met him, pushed him threatening judge with crossbow.
Kim says that he never planned to use violence and only wanted to scare the judge. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said: "Judges believe they are above the law. They're unchallenged, like gangsters, fearing no one. I thought this judge needed to feel fear.". Despite the "peaceful" intentions, struggle between them broke out, the arrow was fired and apparently hurt the judge. Kim was charged with attempted murder and once again found himself at the mercy of the justice system.
Starring legendary actor Ahn Sung-Ki (The Housmaid (1960), Whale Hunter (1984), Winter Wanderer (1986), The South Korean Army (1990), White Badge (1992), Art Museum by the Zoo (1998), Nowhere to Hide (1999), Silmido (2003), Radio Star (2006), May 18 (2007)). 23 June 2012, together with Lee Byung-Hun, became the first Korean actors who recaptured their hands and feet in the courtyard of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Ahn Sung-Ki began his adventure with the cinema in 1959 in the movie Defiance of a Teenager and to this day is one of the hardest working actors in Korea. Thanks to his talent and hard work, he managed to win 6 Grand Bell Awards (Korean equivalent of the Oscar). Ahn already was known for playing roles of idealistic, intelligent and thoughtful characters, and is nice to see him playing again an intelligent character, full of ideals and believing in justice. He does not present his character as a saint, but as a man who, despite all the virtue, is quarrelsome, with difficult character and is facing many personal problems, but despite this it is impossible not to cheer for him during his fight with the Korean judicial system.
Next to brilliantly played main character, we have many great supporting actors. The role of Kim Kyung-Ho lawyer is played by Park Won-Sang. Although played by him, Park Joon is quite predictable, how it was portrayed by Park makes it impossible to deny him talent. Helping him battle with the judges is journalist Jang Eun-Seo (Kim Ji-Ho) and her close partnership with the Park Joon is another highlight of the movie. Noteworthy is also an excellent creation of judge Shin Jae-Yeol (played by Moon Sung-Geun) which is full of, almost tangible, arrogance and because of that it is not easy to forget.
With the premiere of the movie, four months after, also criticizing the Korean justice system, Silenced (2011), the movie almost perfectly hit in the mood of the Korean society. Neither the lack of young stars, or a low budget, prevented the movie of winning the hearts of viewers, and written off by many Chung Ji-Young was able to show that the old generation can make an excellent movie and accomplish commercial success, without copying the style of the younger generation.
Unbowed is an excellent movie that should appeal to everyone. It is 100 minutes filled with long dialogues and lots of legal terms, although it is not boring , and the viewer does not get lost in the maze of paragraphs. Despite the lack of typical action, the movie keeps you in suspense and makes the viewer, after seeing it, feel smarter. I highly recommend to anyone.
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