A Taxi Driver
- South Korea
- 137 mins
- English (subtitles)
Hosted by Director Jang Hoon
May, 1980, Seoul. Demonstrations denouncing yhe martial law proclaimed by the dictator Chun Doo-hwan disrupt the routine of Man-seob, a cranky taxi driver who curses the protesters who prevent him from working. Raising his daughter alone after the death of his wife, Man-seob is crushed by debt. Every fare counts. When he hears a colleague boast that he’s about to receive a colossal sum for taking a Westerner to Gwangju, Man-seob rushes to the rendezvous point to rob him of his client, a German journalist calling himself Peter. The latter intends to investigate clandestinely rumours that Gwangju is under siege by the army and that the government has cut off all communication between the city and the rest of the country. Man-seob, however, lies about his understanding of English and the reasons for their journey. He has no idea what he has embarked on. Their fate will be closely bound to that of the inhabitants of Gwangju.
Based on real facts during the Gwangju revolt, A TAXI DRIVER offers us a two-tier narrative that demonstrates with disturbing clarity how leaders with too much power can blind an entire nation. Initially, while the protagonists are still in Seoul on the fateful date of May 18, 1980, the tone is meant to be light, even fun, but once they have crossed the military barriers, the film delivers a potent emotional charge orchestrated by director Jang Hoon (ROUGH CUT). In addition to recreating Korea of the ’80s, Jang keeps his audience on the alert with chase scenes and a solid dose of suspense. For his second collaboration with Hoon after THE SECRET REUNION, the illustrious Song Kang-ho (THE HOST) delivers one of his best performances of his career, coaxing as many smiles as tears in his role of gruff but endearing driver. A TAXI DRIVER is a powerful and important work that reminds us that our first duties as citizens are those of memory and vigilance.
- translated by Rupert Bottenberg