If you'll recall, I mentioned some crazy martial arts fantasy film that we watched when we were in Seoul. Well, I found it at an Asian film store at the King of Prussia mall in the middle of the big Pokemon day.
Of course, I'm an idiot. I had pretty much assumed it was a Korean film, which is why I had no luck finding it a year ago. Turns out, it's actually a big budget action blockbuster from Hong Kong. This is what you get when you live in a country that does not typically offer television from other cultures; you start thinking that every country sticks to only showing local stuff.
So I'm at the store (kiosk, truthfully) and I'm looking over the racks for this mythically Korean action movie. The clerk (and probably owner) asks if he can help, which is the kind of shopping request I usually brush off... but I thought I'd take a shot. I was running on Pokemon adrenaline, remember.
"Yeah, I'm looking for a movie but I have no idea what it's called."
"Describe a scene to me."
That's heartening. This guy has probably seen every single movie here.
"OK, there's this king who has a daughter and there's two guys fighting over her, but he doesn't want her marrying the cool bad boy one. They all fight and the girl is accidentally killed and at one point the bad boy rips off his arm and does some kind of big blood attack."
Again, I have to stress that I originally watched this with no english voices or subtitles. Everything I know hinges on pure pantomime. My summary is worse than most of the user comments on amazon.
Dude walks over and plucks a DVD from the rack, titled "The Duel." I guess it could be it. The cover shows some guys fighting, and verifies that there are indeed men and women in this movie.
I ask how much, guy says $20 BUT he's running a two fer $30 deal. Well, all right then. So I figure I'll hedge my bets here and ask him to select something similar... this will give me two shots at finding this elusive movie. He pulls a movie called "A Man Called Hero" and I buy them both.
But as he's running the Visa, one of the jackets catches my eye, and the image percolates in my brain as I walk away.
I think that's the old king guy.
So I rush back to the kiosk and do a swap (these movies all cost the same) and trade "Hero" for "The Storm Riders."
The more I look at the actors, the more I'm convinced that this is the one. Even though the writing is obviously not Korean.
And after watching it this weekend, I can verify: that wicked arm-ripping blood attack comes from The Storm Riders, a late-90s Hong Kong epic based on a comic.
Now that I've seen it with dubbed english voices, I can say that I was fairly close with my synopsis. It's amazing how much more obtuse a film can be when you don't know the language, because this is a pretty straight forward film. There's a lot crammed in there, though, which is what makes it seem weightier than it really is. This particular DVD is a bit of a downer, since it skips at least one scene that I definitely remember from the Fourhman Korean Hotel version: the bit where Cloud (I know their names now!) gets a new arm to replace the one he sacrificed in his showdown with Lord Conquer (whee!) Someday I'll have to search out an unedited, original language release.
Hopefully my DVD store guy was on the right track and "The Duel" will be just as good.