The Film (4.5/5)
During the Japanese occupation of Korea, the government becomes obsessed with wiping out all the tigers in Korea. One tiger stands out. The so-called God of the mountain. A blind in one eye Tiger, who is the ultimate hunter in country. As the local hunters become more desperate to catch the tiger, they start to beg retired hunter Chun Man-duk (Choi Min-Sik) to help their cause. Little do they know that Chun has a secret connection to the tiger. But when his son, Seok gets mixed up in the hunt, things become personal.
In 2015, one of the highest grossing movies in South Korea was this highly emotional and daring, THE TIGER. The movie handles the tough subject matter of Japanese occupation, and how something like wiping out tigers, could hold a deeper cultural meaning. Or the erasing of culture. But the biggest connection is that of Chun and The Tiger, and the passing of the noble creatures. Which becomes deeper with the line "Respect the mountain and only catch what's allowed". Something lost on the rest of the locals and the Japanese government.
Not only do we see mirror lives for The Tiger and Chun, but we see a wide range of emotions such as rage, fear, and sadness. On a tonal level, the film gets melodramatic but never to a cartoonish level. Director Hoon-Jung, and the cast handle every element well, and after the first half, I was completely transfixed by how the film connected with me. Furthermore, The CGI Tiger, while not always convincing, is naturalist and becomes a full character.
Choi Min-Sik continues to impress here, after some career defining roles in Park Chan-Wook's OLDBOY, and Kim Jee-woon's I SAW THE DEVIL (also scripted by Park Hoon-Jung). Every scene with him is burning with inner rage. Jung Man-Sik and Kim Sang-ho also turn in memorable roles as hunters. Japanese character actor Ren Osugi (SHIN GODZILLA, GUARD FROM UNDERGROUND, and SONATINE), turns a one note character on paper, into a menacing power for the army.
Eureka! Gives THE TIGER the special first-class treatment. The 5.1 Korean DTS-HD Master audio is clean and smooth. The level of detail was out of this world on my home sound system. The music and sound effects are full of life and subtle grittiness. The movie also handles some the Japanese dialogue well. There is no hiss or pop issues. English subtitles are included.
The 1080p HD picture is clear and sharply focused. The cinematography is served by every level thanks to this transfer. The snow, the woods, the orange glow of the fires, and the rough look on the hunter's faces all look their best. The black levels are smooth, and every frame could be a painting. It's that impressive.
Extras are limited to the teaser and theatrical trailers.
THE TIGER is simply one of the most emotionally satisfying Korean films out on the market. Eureka! Gives the film an excellent transfer, and presentation. While it lacks extras, it is a must own for fans of Korean cinema. Highly Recommended.