“The Piper” is an entertaining and meaningful movie that will satisfy most of its spectators, despite its somewhat grotesque nature.

 The Piper has its fair share of thrills and goes into surprisingly dark territory for a fable, but it takes its time to get to those moments of thrills. The evolving dynamics between Woo-ryong and the village chief remain quite interesting throughout, especially when Woo-ryong exacts revenge against the chief. The relationship between Woo-wyong and his son isn’t explored enough, though, to leave you truly engrossed on an emotional level. However, the performances by Ryu Seung-ryong and Lee Sung-min are quite convincing. What also helps to elevate the film is the breathtaking cinematography that brings out the beauty of the natural surroundings. It would be safe to say that the land becomes of character in itself, in a way. Any film where land becomes a character should be watched on the big screen to fully appreciate the visuals. Do keep in mind, though, that The Piper might be too scary and intense for kids, but adults will be mildly captivated.

Technically, the film is competent, to say the least, with Hong Jae-sik’s cinematography making the most out of the bucolic scenery of the village. The flute music that mostly comprises the movie’s soundtrack is very fitting, while the special effects are impressive, particualry during the end, and in the scenes where the rats attack.

“The Piper” is an entertaining and meaningful movie that will satisfy most of its spectators, despite its somewhat grotesque nature.

“The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and gave it a Korean twist.

Ryu Seung-ryong as Woo-ryong
Lee Sung-min as Village chief
Chun Woo-hee as Mi-sook
Lee Joon as Nam-soo
Goo Seung-hyun as Young-nam
Jung Kyung-ho as Chul-soo’s father

About Human vs Rat, which shows the dark side of humans.

Soo-jin (Seo Yea-ji) is involved in an accident and loses her memory. She begins to see the future and as illusions

In the 1950s after the Korean War, a gentle wandering piper with a limp, Woo-ryong, and his sick young son, Young-nam, are en-route by foot to Seoul through the central Korean highlands when they reach a remote village. The village chief allows Woo-ryong and his son to stay at his house. The piper shows the Chief an English-written note that he says is the name of an American doctor at a hospital in Seoul who can treat Young-nam. The Chief, who tells the piper not to tell anyone else the war is over, agrees but he cannot read English either. Woo-ryong is smitten by a villager called Mi-sook who lost her husband and child in the war.

Woo-ryong quickly sees that the village is plagued by rats that do not fear humans and do not fall for traps and poisons. The chief explains he and his people came here when they heard Chinese soldiers were approaching their old village. They hid the village lepers in a cave with the village shaman. But when the Chinese had not reached the village, they returned to the cave but found all the lepers were dead and being eaten by rats. The vicious vermin then invaded the village because it had no shaman to keep them out.

Woo-ryong volunteers to get rid of the rats in exchange for the price of a pig that will help pay for his son’s medical treatment. He spreads a special powder across the village and goes to a nearby hilltop. Checking the wind direction he lights a very smokey fire that smothers the village in smoke. At the same time, Mi-sook, who has been forced by the chief to become the new village shaman begins a purification ritual with bells. Rats start pouring out of the buildings following Woo-ryung’s powder to a cave.

Mi-sook starts to fall in love with Woo-ryung due to his kind nature. The son even starts to call her “mummy”. However, the chief threatens her if she plans to leave the village. He also plots with his son, Nam-soo, to not reward the Piper for getting rid of the rats. First they create doubt in the mind of the male villagers making them believe that Woo-ryong is a communist spy who brought the rats with him. At a village meeting, the chief says he is going to pay the piper but a dead cat is found. Proof the chief says that the rats are back. He holds up Woo-ryung’s English note and says its spying material; it simply reads “Kiss my ass, monkey” – no American doctor’s name just a cruel joke. Woo-ryung reaches for the money but Nam-soo chops off two of his fingers with a knife. The villagers turn on Woo-ryung and Young-nam, even Mi-sook condemns them. But as the villagers get ready to throw them out, Mi-sook returns in a shamanic trance but stabbed in the stomach. She tells the villagers that on a day without sun they will all die and their children might live or die, repeating the original shaman’s prophecy before she was locked up and burnt alive by the villagers. Mi-sook then dies from her wounds.

Before they leave, the Chief puts two poisoned rice-balls in Woo-ryung’s knapsack. The injured piper falls asleep while his son sneaks back to the village to retrieve his father’s pipe from the Chief’s house. On the way back, Young-nam ate one of the poisoned rice-balls and dies.

Woo-ryong sets out on a revenge. After burning his son’s body on a funeral pyre, he covers himself in the special powder he used earlier to attract the rats and reopens the cave. He uses his two severed fingers as bait and starts playing his pipe to lead the rats back to the village where they devour all the adults including the chief and his son. Next morning only the villagers’ children are alive, Woo-ryung plays his pipe and leads them to the cave where he trapped the rats. After sealing them all in, he turns and looks hard into the camera.

Movie Information

Initial release: July 9, 2015
Director: Kim Kwang-tae
Music by: Lee Ji-soo
Box office: US$5.5 million
Production company: UBU Film
Cinematography: Hong Jae-sik

Peter Ahn

Peter Ahn

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