A widowed father and taxi driver who drives a German reporter from Seoul to Gwangju to cover the 1980 uprising, soon finds himself regretting his decision after being caught in the violence around him.
While Korea is occupied by the Japanese Army in 1933, the resistance plans to kill the Japanese Commander. But their plan is threatened by a traitor within their group and also the enemies' forces are hunting them down.
May 1980. A Seoul taxi driver named Man-seob (SONG Kang-ho) comes across an offer too good to be true. If he drives a foreign passenger from Seoul down to Gwangju and back again before the curfew, he'll be paid the unthinkable sum of 100,000 won - enough to cover several months of unpaid rent. Without stopping to ask the details, he picks up the German reporter Peter (Thomas Kretschmann) and sets off along the highway. Although stopped by police roadblocks at the edge of Gwangju, Man-seob is desperate to earn his taxi fare, and eventually manages to find a way into the city. There they encounter students and ordinary citizens taking part in large-scale demonstrations against the government. Man-seob, alarmed by the danger in the air, pleads with Peter to go quickly back to Seoul. But Peter ignores him, and with the help of a university student Jae-sik (RYU Jun-yeol) and a Gwangju taxi driver named HWANG (YOO Hai-jin), begins shooting with his news camera. As time passes the situation ...Written by
You know that a movie is good when you leave it asking yourself "Why haven't I heard of this before?"
1980. The movie starts harmless. A widowed taxi driver in Seoul struggling to make ends meet for himself and his little daughter. He more or less wants to do the right thing in a country where circumstances aren't all that well but you can live your life. The movie pulls a few heartstrings here and there but never too much. It is surprisingly tactful and the director wisely steps back from the story and lets good actors paint a picture of everyday life.
Enter a German reporter who smells a good story after being tipped off by a BBC colleague who tells him that the generally tense situation in South Korea somehow got worse recently. He needs a driver and the taxi driver needs the money. It is a relation out of necessity and neither of them actually seem to take a liking to each other.
Both soon have to come to terms with the fact that they put themselves into a situation which has great relevance to their country and their professions. Turning away just isn't possible. "Doing the right thing" means that an average person has to find extraordinary courage.
I have to commend the director and his actors for this eyewitness feeling. It is almost like you're another passenger sitting in that little taxi. You don't watch a movie but you are actually there as it happens. The fact that I was largely ignorant of those events in history makes this movie even more significant.
The end result is a movie which is well-directed, with competent acting and impressive camera work. I had very little to criticize but a lot to think about when I left the show and that -to me- often is the sign of a truly good movie. Go see it!
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