Athena Goddess of War (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
November 3, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“Athena Goddess of War” is a fantastic espionage action film from South Korea. Featuring wonderful performances by its talent with wonderful production, its main-drawback is that it’s a 117-minute film that was edited from 20-hours of TV drama footage. And now I’m hoping FUNimation considers releasing the entire drama series after watching this film! But “Athena Goddess of War” is a film worth watching… this Blu-ray/DVD release is recommended!
TITLE: Athena Goddess of War
TELEFILM RELEASE: 2010
DURATION: 117 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9 Widescreen), Korean and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English
RATED: TV 14
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Directed by Jung-hyun Hwang, Myung-jun Kim, Tae-hun Kim
Written by Hyun-jun Kim, Yoo Nam-kyung
Music by Dong-jun Lee
Edited by Steve M. Choe, Changju Kim
Woo-sung Jung as Lee Jung-Woo
Soo Ae as Yoon Hye-In
Seung-won Cha as Son-Hyeok
Min-jong Kom as Kim Ki-Soo
Si Won Choi as Kim Joon Ho
Dong-geun Yun as Director Kwon Yong-Kwan
Yeong-ae Kim as Choi Jin-Hee
Ji-ah Lee as Han Jae-Hee
Jeong-Kil Lee as President Jo Myeong-Ho
Beautiful double-agent Yoon Hye-in is caught in the middle of a game of nuclear espionage – and torn between two very different men. One heroically fights beside her on the anti-terror taskforce known as NTS. The other ruthlessly controls Athena, the extremist organization NTS is trying to stop. As Yoon Hye-in struggles to choose between them, growing suspicions from all sides put her life on the line.
Can she keep her double-life hidden? How long can she play both sides of the law – and two powerful men – before her cover is violently compromised? The countdown to an explosive stand-off begins now!
In 2009, Korean network KBS broadcasted the South Korean espionage TV drama series known as “Iris”. Known as one of the most expensive drama series produced.
The 20-episode drama series would focus on two friends Kim Hyun-Jun (portrayed by Lee Byung-hun) and Jin-Sa-woo (portrayed by Jung Joon-Ho) who become initiated into a secret organization of the National Security Service and both are brought into the secret organization with the job to pre-empt foreign threats and assassinate anyone who will be a threat to South Korean national security.
Suffice to say, “Iris” was a tremendous success in South Korea and the 20-episodes were condensed into a feature film featuring new shots and an extended ending.
The popularity of “Iris” would lead to a spin-off 20-episode TV drama series titled “Athena: Goddess of War”. And similar to “Iris”, the series became one of the most expensive drama series on television and would lead to a film condensing the 20-episodes to one feature film.
And now, “Athena Goddess of War” has been released as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack courtesy of FUNimaton.
The film revolves around plans for South Korea to advance in nuclear technology and South Korea using a defecting North Korean scientist, Dr. Kim to create the technology. Because a team known as Athena is trying to retrieve the technology as well as Dr. Kim, a new counter-terrorism task force is created.
What is not known as Son Hyeok (portrayed by Cha Seung-won) of the mysterious Athena group is also the director of the US intelligence agency known as DIS and is a double agent.
Meanwhile, Jung-woo (portrayed by Jung Woo-Sung) is transferred to the NTS and falls for a museum guide who doesn’t give him a time of day. The woman is revealed to be an NTS member named Yoon Hye-in (portrayed by Soo Ae) and what is not known by the NTS is that she is also a double-agent working with Son Hyeok and her job is to infiltrate the NTS, take technology and also allow them to kidnap the scientist Dr. Kim.
Athena will do all it can to get the scientist and technology and to gain the upper-hand, they kidnap Soo-young (portrayed by Lee Bo-young) in Italy, a young woman who happens to be the daughter of the South Korean president. And now, both Jung-woo and Hye-in will be responsible in saving the president’s daughter.
And as the two spend more time together, both Jung-woo and Hye-in start to fall in love…but Hye-in knows that her job is to help Athena, while Jung-woo’s job is to do anything he can stop them. And with word that there is a leak inside the NTS, many wonder who is responsible.
“Athena Goddess of War” is presented in 1080p High Definition. While the film is based on the TV series, considering SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) spent a lot on production for this drama series, to conversion to film is actually well-done. This film does not look like a TV dram series, it looks like a high budget film with slick production values, many location shots in different countries. Picture quality is fantastic and I don’t think I saw any problematic issues with the series. Skin tones were natural, close-ups were well-detailed and black levels were nice and deep.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Athena Goddess of War” is presented in Korean and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The soundtrack also doesn’t seem like it came from a TV drama series. With a lot of action-sequences throughout the film, surround channels are utilized for the multiple gun shots, sniper shots and explosions. The overall mix for the film is well-done and while I prefer the original Korean lossless track (as I prefer watching films in their original language), FUNimation is known for hiring talented voice actors and so those who don’t like reading English subtitles will enjoy the English dubwork (which I did watch as well and felt it was well-done).
Subtitles are in English.
“Athena Goddess of War” comes with no special features.
“Athena Goddess of War” comes with a slipcover case and includes both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.
“Athena Goddess of War” is an action-packed espionage film from South Korea. Production values were excellent, acting was magnificent and the storyline was engaging and enjoyable.
But there is one problem with this film and that it is very hard to condense nearly 20-hours of story from the exciting drama series into a 117 minute film.
Yes, they manage to make a comprehensive film from beginning to end but there are so many situations throughout the film that seemed rush and somethings that are not fully explained, that were probably edited out and only featured in the TV drama series version.
For the most part, what the film does right is staying close to the key figures of the film and focusing the triangle between Lee Jung-Woo, Son Hyeok and Yoon Hye-In. These three are the primary characters and the film focuses on the most pertinent details that involve these three characters.
The problem is when the film features other characters especially with the NTS. There are scenes that feature K-Pop stars Choi Si-won (of Super Junior) as Kim Jun-ho and TVXQ’s Changmin and the film suddenly showcases these two with no back story. You feel there is some importance as these two seem to kick quite a bit of butt but you realize that there story is probably in the drama series and were included in the final film for their thrilling rescue/action sequence.
There are also relationships that you get a feeling that existed but were probably focused on more in the drama series. In fact, you get a feeling there was more storyline that revolves around Hye-in with Jung-woo and also Son Hyeok, a history that is never explored too much in the film but showcased quite a bit in the TV series.
The fact is that with 20-hours of story, you can only include so much in 117 minutes. But if you have no plans to watch this film or even its predecessor “Iris”, the film on its own can easily be enjoyed by a viewer. But part of me now wishes that FUNimation will pursue and release the complete “Athena Goddess of War” drama series but also considers releasing “Iris” as well.
But focusing on this film alone, I really enjoyed “Athena Goddess of War”. The amount of action was intense, the acting, may it be dramatic or action-based by Woo-sung Jung, Soo Ae and Seung-won Cha was well-done and I was really drawn into their performance which led to me really enjoying this film tremendously. In fact, I felt that actress Soo Ae was incredible in this film and made me want to search for her other films that are available on Blu-ray.
As for the Blu-ray release, you get both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film but there are no special features? How can that be?
With that being said, I really do hope that FUNimation considers looking into the release of the drama series and also “Iris” (series and/or film). Just watching this film alone, I am now really wanting to watch the drama series to see how the actual storyline flows throughout the series with these characters and to also see what was edited out.
Overall, “Athena Goddess of War” is a fantastic espionage action film from South Korea. Featuring wonderful performances by its talent with wonderful production, its main-drawback is that it’s a 117-minute film that was edited from 20-hours of TV drama footage. And now I’m hoping FUNimation considers releasing the entire drama series after watching this film! But “Athena Goddess of War” is a film worth watching… this Blu-ray/DVD release is recommended!
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