|Ahn Sung Ki||Captain Daejung|
|Jung Woo Sung||Yeesol|
|Joo Jin Mo||General Choi Jung|
|Zhang Ziyi||The Princess|
|Yu Rong Guang||Rambulhwa|
|From Poker Industries|
Gladiator without the boring bits and the psychotic emperor...
In 1375 the Koryo king sent a diplomatic delegation to the Ming emperor. The Mings regarded them as spies and exiled them across the northern desert. Attacked by Mongols, the Ming escort and sundry Koryo, including the senior envoy, are slain but the surviving Koryos were allowed to go on their way. This is their story.
The survivors trudge across the vast desert with little food and water. The remaining envoy frees his faithful slave Yeesol and dies. Young general Choi Jung declares the manumission void because under Koryo law, "Once a slave, always a slave." Finally, the Koryos come to a caravanserai where they are able to buy rations.
While at the caravanserai, a Mongol company, lead by Rambulhwa, arrives. They have a Ming princess captive. The princess drops a message to Choi asking to be freed. He's young and inexperienced and she's hot so he comes up with the plan of rescuing the princess and, thus, getting in good with the Mings who will give the Koryos a boat and let them go home.
The Koryos successfully take the princess from the Mongols in a furious and bloody melee and Rambulhwa goes back to the main Mongol encampment, the sole survivor. His boss wants that Ming princess because the Mings took his sister and has Rambulhwa swear a blood oath to retake her. Rambulhwa sets out again with a larger troop to capture the Princess, no matter how many Koryos are in the way or how long it takes.
Not all of the Koryos are happy with the leadership of General Choi. He has two groups of soldiers with him, his own troop, the Yongho, who appear to be regular army, and the Joojin under Captain Daejung who are scouts or militia. The Joojin troopers feel they get all the crappy jobs and the Yongho get preferential treatment but Captain Daejung tries to keep the peace. Yeesol is given the task of guarding the princess and he's not shy about disagreeing with his "betters" if it will help the princess. They head for the Clay Castle to hand the Princess over to its garrison.
Ok, don't expect wire fu just because Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Yu Rong Guang (Iron Monkey) are in the movie. The princess kicks no butt because she has led a sheltered life and Mongols don't do kung fu. However, there is enough sword play, spear fighting and archery that the wire fu isn't missed. In one Mongol onslaught, the Mongols run their ladders up the castle wall! Musa teems with action yet the characters are developed and differentiated from each other, even relatively minor characters such as the cowardly interpreter and the young soldier whose wife was pregnant when they left Koryo. Also, there are no bad guys. Rambulhwa is after the princess because of his oath but he is not a an evil man. Standing out is Ahn Sung Ki (Nowhere to Hide) as master archer Captain Daejung, not always agreeing with General Choi but trying to do what's best and what is right.
My husband wandered in while I was watching Musa and asked, "Have we ever had a Korean movie that wasn't gorgeous?" I had to agree that every one we have seen looks stunning. Musa is no exception. Even the dismemberments are beautifully shot. It is anamorphic 2.35 to 1. They needed a wide screen to fit in all that spectacle. However, the song over the closing credits needed work. It wasn't subtitled so I can't speak to the lyrics but it sounded too sappy in an overly modern way, kind of like the theme from Titanic. Also, the English subtitles needed a little work. They were legible but not always comprehensible.
Captain Daejung (~21K)
Yeesol and the Princess (~24K)