Let A TAXI DRIVER Take You on a Powerful Journey of Resistance

Well Go USA Brings Can’t-Miss Historical Drama to Blu-ray

In A Taxi Driver, star Song Kang-Ho returns to the early 1980s setting and thematic material — Korean civil unrest and abusive, martial government response — that so richly served as the backdrop of his 2013 film The Attorney. The film is based on true events of the Gwangju Uprising in May of 1980, in which about 600 people were killed.

Song’s character, Kim Man-Seob, is a hard luck Seoul cabbie. A poor widower with a young daughter and a heap of debt, he finally gets what looks like a lucky break: a German journalist is offering a hefty sum for a day’s excursion to the city of Gwangju.

Thomas Kretschmann plays “Peter” (real life reporter Jürgen Hinzpeter), a newshound who has heard a rumor of rioting in the streets of Gwangju. Song knows a bit of English, and it’s just enough for the pair to manage rudimentary communication.

They arrive to find a city under siege: martial law has been declared and military forces are violently policing the streets, indiscriminately killing and injuring citizens. Military checkpoints, a media blackout, and a propaganda machine have effectively shut off the city from the world, and Peter’s reporting becomes more than just a hot story — it’s the city’s best and only chance of outside intervention.

Driving into this unexpected maelstrom — far from home and cut off from his young daughter — Song is faced with conflicting impulses. Reluctant to get involved, anxious to get paid, pressured by his own obligations at home, and increasingly sympathetic to the the plight of citizens in the face of oppression, his recognition of the situation is reinforced as the pair are befriended by an English-speaking student (Ryu Jun-Yeol) and local cab operator (Hae-jin Yoo) who resolve to aid Peter in his reporting.

Most viewers won’t know the name Hae-jin Yoo, but he’s one of Korea’s most enjoyable and recognizable character actors. I’m used to seeing him in comic roles (I praised Yoo previously for his hilarious role in The Pirates), but he does tremendous, endearing work here as a generous-hearted Gwangju taxi driver who takes in Song and Peter and helps them in their mission, even encouraging Song to leave while he can — it’s not his city, nor his battle to fight.

It’s this development in the story which presents Song with a chance to escape the hopeless situation with everything he wanted — cab repaired, fare paid, and danger passed. The choice he makes here is the critical moral center of the story.

A Taxi Driver is incredible drama with a lot of weight and suspense, but also mixes things up with moments of levity and even a surprising amount of action both in and out of vehicles. It’s an powerful and thought-provoking film that has handily become one of my favorites of 2017.

The Package

Fairly plain package on this one — no extras aside from some trailers. It would’ve been nice to have some extras to exposit the historical context of the Korean riots.

Special Features and Extras

Trailer (1:54)

Promo Trailers
Additional trailers for WellGoUSA titles Along with the Gods (2:04), Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead (1:30), and The Swindlers (1:28)

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon

Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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