The Pirates (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 2, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“The Pirates” is one heck of a wild ride! It’s one of the more enjoyable pirate films that I have watched and while it is a popcorn action film, it’s so exciting and fun, that I do recommend it!
TITLE: The Pirates
FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 130 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen), Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RATED: NR (Not Rated)
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Directed by Seok-hoon Lee
Written by Seong-il cheon
Cinematography by Young-Ho Kim
Edited by Jin Lee
Art Direction by Ji-ah Kim
Costume Design by Yoo-jin Kwon
Nam-gil Kim as Jang Sa-jung
Ye-jin Son as Yeo-wol
Hae-jin Yoo as Chul-bong
Kyeong-yeong Lee as So-ma
Tae-woo Kim as Mo Hong-gab
Cheol-min Park as Monk
Won-hae Kim as Choo-seob
Dal-hwan Jo as San-man
Jeong-geun Sin as Yong-kap
Sulli Choi as Heyk-myo
Yi-kyeong Lee as Cham-bok
On the eve of the founding of the Joseon Dynasty, an unprecedented robbery shocks the nation-in-waiting: a whale has swallowed the Emperor’s Royal Seal, and a bounty placed on its retrieval. Now, every infamous gang of thieves, thugs, pirates, and government agents take to the seas, battling the elements, creatures of the deep, and each other to possess the mother of all rewards.
One of the top grossing films in Korea in 2014, Seok-hoon Lee’s “The Pirates” will be released on Blu-ray in the U.S. courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
A winner of multiple cinema awards, the film would be watched by over 8.6 million people in South Korea and would gross $64.7 million internationally.
The film would star Nam-gil Kim (“No Regret”, “Bad Boys”), Ye-jin Son (“A Moment to Remember”, “April Snow”), Hae-jin Yoo (“The Warrior”, “The Coast Guard”), Kyeong-yeong Lee (“War of the Arrows”, “White Badge”) and Tae-woo Kim (“J.S.A.: Joint Security Area”, “Like You Know It All”).
The film begins with a soldier named Jang Sa-jun (portrayed by Nam-gil Kim) criticizing the King. He is nearly killed by his fellow soldier Mo Hong-gab (portrayed by Tae-woo Kim) but his friend blocks the hit. As his friend tries to prevent Jang Sa-jun from getting killed, Mo Hong-gab kills him and a battle takes place between Jang Sa-jun and Mo Hong-gab.
Jang Sa-jun manages to escape the battle and leaves his former job as a soldier.
Meanwhile, we watch as a group of pirates led by So-ma (portrayed by Kyeong-yeong Lee) and his first officer, a woman named Yeo-wol (portrayed by Ye-jin Son) run a tight crew and by stealing the five golden Bhudda statues. One of the statues falls to the ocean and we see Yeo-wol diving to get it, she is greeted by a huge whale who she pets and notices its old wound.
When Chul-bong (portrayed by Hae-jin yoo), a fearful pirate overhears So-ma discussing with a government official about having to murder seven pirates aboard the ship, Chul-bong tells everyone and Yeo-wol, realizes that if it’s true, she may have to face her captain to the battle of the death. As for Chul-bong, he escapes on a survival boat in order to head to safety.
A battle between Yeo-wol and So-ma takes place and Yeo-wol manages to beat her captain. But rather than face punishment, So-ma falls in the ocean to his death. Yeo-wol becomes the new leader on the pirate ship.
On another ship, we see a group who work for the King transporting the important seal from China but also delivering the new name for the country to be named Joseon. They spot a whale with its newborn and they choose to attack it. The whale ends up trying to defend its young from attacks and dives and falls on the ships deck, breaking it in half. The seal is still in sight, but then the survivors see the whale eat the seal.
Afraid to tell the King the truth that a whale had eaten the seal, they concoct a story that a group of pirates had stolen the seal. The King enlists Mo Hong-gab, who was thought to be dead, is released from prison, now sporting an eye patch and wanting to help the King find the Pirates responsible for stealing the seal. Meanwhile, a reward is set out for anyone who can capture the whale and get the seal back, will be rewarded.
As for Chul-bong, he makes it to land and tries to join a group of thieves led by Jang Sa-jung, now going by the name “Crazy Tiger”. The group wants nothing but to be a group that succeeds in stealing from the rich but to no avail so far.
Jang Sa-jung finds out that he could be rich if he finds this whale, so without experience, they take in Chul-bong and head to see in the hopes of finding the huge whale.
Meanwhile, Mo Hong-gab goes directly to Yeo-wol and the pirates and tells them if they don’t find that whale, the government will use their power to murder their families and destroy their village. Prompting Yeo-wol to make a difficult choice if she should save the whale that she once saved or do her job and retrieve the seal.
Meanwhile, another So-ma who is thought to be dead has re-emerged and creates an alliance with the soldiers. But he wants nothing much to get the whale but also to get his revenge on Yeo-wol.
“The Pirates” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is fantastic as skin tones look natural and closeups featured great detail. The costume design is amazing and this film really showcases the beauty of the costumes. And if anything, while the film looks fantastic in HD, it does have a few banding issues during an underwater scene but other than that, the film looks great on Blu-ray!
I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Pirates” is presented in Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For a film that utilizes plenty of action, “The Pirates” features a strong lossless soundtrack with great use of the surround channels and LFE. The chase scene is one of the more impressive moments in the film that really takes advantage of your surround channels and subwoofer. While not perfect, most audiophiles may feel content with this action-driven soundtrack!
Subtitles are in English.
“The Pirates” comes with a theatrical trailer.
“The Pirates” comes with a slipcover.
When I first started watching “The Pirates”, I have to admit that I couldn’t picture a story about the founding of Korea with the backstory around pirates. While I did basic research and learned about the Wokou and how there were Japanese pirates that threatened the coastal areas of Japan, China and Korea, I read that Joseon govt. were focused more on the capture and elimination of these pirates.
And my first impression was that this film going to be the banal martial arts/swordfighting popcorn action film, but it turned out to be much better than I expected. In fact, I enjoyed it much better than the latest movies in the “Pirates of the Last Caribbean” film series.
What “The Pirates” does feature is a lot of action with awesome special effects, riveting action sequences but a lot of humor. But what breaks it apart from other pirate films is that the storyline is broken up into focusing on various factions. From Crazy Tiger and his rag-tag bunch of thieves who want to make a name for themselves, a group of pirates led by a female captain who not only kicks ass but she also shows compassion towards her crew and even the whales out in the sea.
But you also get another faction featuring a ruthless pirate that is more interested in revenge and showing his power and last, a dirty and corrupt soldier who will do anything to get the seal, but also to get the revenge for the person responsible for slashing out his eye.
And once the stories of each faction start to emerge as one or combine, that’s when a lot of the fun starts taking place, especially between “Crazy Tiger” Jang Sa-jung, leader of the thieves and “the Dragon”, pirate captain Yeo-wol. Both actor Nam-gil Kim and actress Ye-jin Son have wonderful chemistry on the big screen and you can’t help but want to see them together in their scenes because their characters are very different from one another, but yet they match well together.
As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality for “The Pirates” is fantastic. Featuring vibrant colors, amazing detail in close-ups, especially showcasing the costume design for the film. There was one scene I saw banding (underwater scene) but other than that, the picture quality is wonderful. And the lossless soundtrack features great use of the surround channels and good use of LFE. Unfortunately, for special features, all that is included is the trailer for the film.
Overall, “The Pirates” is one heck of a wild ride! It’s one of the more enjoyable pirate films that I have watched and while it is a popcorn action film, it’s so exciting and fun, that I do recommend it!
Great combination of action and humor, “The Pirates” is highly recommended!
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