The 9th annual Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) got underway in Melbourne on September 6th, and ‘A Taxi Driver‘ was chosen to be the first movie screened on the opening night. It was the first of 17 movies that will be showing over the next week that KOFFIA is in Melbourne.
Director: Jang Hoon
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Yoo Hai-jin, Ryu Jun-yeol
May 1980, South Korea. Man-seob is a taxi driver in Seoul who lives from hand to mouth, raising an 11 year old daughter on his own after the recent death of his wife. After paying off his late wife’s hospital bills, all he has left in his possession is an old taxi that he treasures. One day, he overhears that there is a foreigner who will pay big money for a ride down to Gwangju city and back before curfew. Happy to be making big money to pay his overdue monthly rent, Man-seob snatches the job, not knowing that the foreigner is a German journalist with a hidden agenda. They arrive to find a city under siege by the military government; with the citizens, led by a determined group of college students, rising up to demand freedom. What began as an easy fare becomes a life-or-death struggle in the midst of the Gwangju Uprising, a critical event in modern South Korea.
Check out the trailer for ‘A Taxi Driver’ below!
‘A Taxi Driver‘ put me through a roller coaster of emotions. Even though the film is about a controversial real-life event, it still had heartwarming and lighthearted moments. At the beginning of the movie, the protagonist Kim Man-seob (Song Kang-Ho) made the audience laugh multiple times. However, these moments happened less as the plot developed. Instead of being funny, the film began to become more bittersweet.
Witnessing the growing bond between two unlikely characters, Kim and Jürgen “Peter” Hinzpeter (Thomas Kretschmann) was so heartwarming. The themes of brotherhood and sacrifice were prominent. There was also a strong feeling of community as the taxi drivers united together to help Peter spread the word out to the world about the Gwangju Massacre.
As a history major in university, I was deeply moved by the movie’s portrayal of the Gwangju Massacre. I had not dabbled in Korean history before, so this was a shocking event that I had not previously known about. The scenes depicting the massacre are graphic. Some of the footage from Peter’s camera in the movie is actually footage from the real event that took place in 1980. This shock factor will definitely raise awareness about this event to the public. This movie also depicted how important freedom of speech, and the media are.
As I mentioned earlier, I found myself riding a roller coaster of emotions throughout the movie, I was laughing at the beginning, but tearing up at the end. Everyone should definitely watch this movie at least once in their lives.
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Written by Lindsay
Edited by Narelle
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