A disparate collection of travellers including soldiers, diplomats and refugees are thrown together in 14th century china as they are pursued by the Mongol army.
This historical epic inevitably draws comparison to Hero and House of Flying Daggers, but actually is more in the tradition of Akira Kurosawa than those more fantasy based offerings. Clearly owing debts to Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress in particular, it’s also influenced by John Ford’s cavalry films in that it takes the time to explore all of the characters involved and the rich collection of antagonistic factions and conflicting loyalties make for a much more interesting character dynamic than most. It may not have the artsy visuals and production value of the projects of Zhang Yimou or Ang Lee but the grittier approach makes for a well crafted historical adventure with just the right balance of heroism and believability, with beautifully shot locations and realistic, bloody battle sequences.
Although it was a co-production with the Chinese film industry, Musa still deserves recognition as one of the films that marked the coming of age of Korean film making and is one of the better Asian historical epics of recent years.