20 September 2020

K Movie Review: A Taxi Driver (2017) 4.5 || 4.5

We're currently watching Park Bo Gum's Record of Youth on Netflix. There have only been four episodes released so far and we've seen all of them. Oppa recommended that we watch a movie first while waiting. He's been teasing me that we have to know Korean history if we really want to move there. Well, he might actually be serious about indoctrinating me because he's been making me watch historical K movies - The Man Standing Next last time and A Taxi Driver this time. And his choices have been good. 


A Taxi Driver tells the story of a German reporter Jurgen Hinzpeter (Thomas Kretschmann) who hired a taxi driven by Kim Man Seob (Song Kang Ho) to take him to Gwangju so he can report on the on-going uprising there. The two took different routes to avoid numerous checkpoints. They befriended protesters from Gwangju. They tried their best to evade the soldiers running after them. Man Seob stayed with Jurgen until he safely boarded his flight back to Japan to tell the world about the atrocities happening in Gwangju. 

The Good

After watching this film, I can finally articulate what I found problematic with Juror 8. Both films were based on true stories. I was disappointed to learn later on that Juror 8 was very loosely based on the real story and yet it was not able to make the movie compelling enough, given all the freedom they had to change things in the story. On the contrary, A Taxi Driver was compelling enough for me even before I researched on how close it was to the real story. I learned later on that A Taxi Driver did deviate from the actual story but not as much as Juror 8 did. And that made me like it more - it was quite accurate and it was interesting. 

The best thing I liked about this film was the process of Kim Man Seob's political awakening. He started out completely clueless about the events in Gwangju - probably because he was brainwashed by what was being shown on mainstream media. He even mentioned that he served in the army before and he knew that soldiers would never abuse their authority. Then, Man Seob began to hear the accounts of protesters like Gu Jae Sik (Ryu Jun Yeol), a university student. Although he listened, he still had his doubts. And when he finally saw things for himself, he realized that indeed, there were atrocities being committed in Gwangju. And while he initially wanted to run away, he came back and even helped save the injured. Man Seob's character is proof that it's never too late to be woke. We have to be patient with and help those who are still in the process of discovering themselves and where they stand with regard to political issues. 

Another realization I had after watching the film was that Koreans owe whatever freedom they enjoy now to those who sacrificed their lives during the Gwangju Uprising - people like the students and the taxi drivers who risked their lives to save the injured and used their bodies to block soldiers.  

Films like A Taxi Driver are important pieces of history that people need to go back to. We must do this so we will not fall into the trap of dismissing dissenters as mere rioters. People need to realize that these protesters are also fighting for our rights. The protests might cause us some inconvenience and discomfort but the people who are actually out there on the streets are sacrificing and suffering so much more. The entertainment industry has a social responsibility to create films like this so people will never forget what happened and those guilty would not succeed in revising history. 

The soldiers shown on the film were definitely abusive. Oppa was wondering how the Korean military overcame that "high and mighty" mindset/superiority complex. How and when did they evolve from abusive guardians of the people to real guardians of the people's welfare? It's amazing that they were able to accomplish that in such a short time. That's something that the Philippines needs training on. :) 

There were many familiar faces in this film - Mr. Nam from Encounter (Ko Chang Seok), Mr. Nam from Something in the Rain (Park Hyuk Kwon), Seagull from Prison Playbook (Lee Ho Chul), Chae Geun Sik from Suits (Choi Gwi Hwa), and some of the guests on House on Wheels (Uhm Tae Goo and Lee Jeong Eun). But my most favorite of all would have to be Ryu Jun Yeol's Jae Sik. It was so nice to see him in a bubblier role. He smiled a lot here compared to the reserved Jung Hwan in Reply 1988

Over all, I liked A Taxi Driver because it maintained a very good balance between historical and entertaining storytelling. 

Oppa says...4.5.

Noona says...4.5.