If you are familiar with the real life event that was the Gwangju Uprising of 1980, then you know what you are getting into when watching this movie. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what happened, you are in for quite the history lesson here. This movie covers a very emotional and powerful event in South Korea's modern history, and I'm glad to say that this adaptation successfully captures that emotion and the significance of what happened. It absolutely resonates well with what is going on in the world today as well, which only adds that little bit of relatability that only bolster the feelings you might have for it.
History lessons aside, the other main highlight as to why this is a phenomenal movie is the taxi driver himself named Kim, played by Song Kang-ho, who is absolutely incredible in the role. What makes the character work so well is that while he is a fictionalized version of the real taxi driver involved in the historical event, he still acts as the audience surrogate. He is an everyday man, flawed in many ways, and is hardly the ideal hero for this story. Kim's story arc throughout the movie is quite the journey and adventure though, and it'll become very hard not to root for the guy. The supporting cast themselves are also really good, but this is Song Kang-ho's movie through and through.
As powerful and emotional the premise of the movie is, it's still an adaptation. I say that because it's easy to fault some of the direction in this movie, when it goes down plot turns that verges too much on the typical cliche plot tropes. There are simply some predictable and unbelievable turn of events that threatens to ruin the suspension of disbelief. For a lesser movie, those could ruin the good will you might have for the whole production, but the combination of the strong performances and powerful premise should help you ignore most of the movie's flaws.
Filled with intrigue, and action sequences, "A Taxi Driver" is like a political adventure thriller that packs an emotional wallop that should stay with you well past the credits. It will likely make you look up with happened at Gwangju on that year, which should only make you appreciate what this movie has accomplished. Excellent film. A must see!
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