Smugglers by Paige Quinn

Ryoo Seung-wan Smugglers blew me awayWith the combination of the film’s mise-en-scene, cinematography, and captivating storyline, I was left inspired by Ryoo Seung-wan’s attention to detail. In a way I find that many action/thriller movies lack; Smugglers was able to make this genre of movie artful. Along with these elements, Ryoo Seung-wan accompanied a violent crime film with a clever, witty undertone and dialogue.

One way Ryoo Seung-wan performs artfully is the framing of Smugglers as a timepiece. The movie takes place during the 1970s when Korea was isolated from the rest of the world and forced to find other ways of living – smuggling. Here, the element that resonated with me the most was the costume design. The large, voluminous hair, in which Jo Chun-Ja uses a wig (hilarious), bell-bottomed pants, and bright colours, were captured perfectly as Jo Chun-Ja makes her shift in style as she earns more money. Thus, the now seemingly silly outfits but iconic clothes of the time are reproduced perfectly.

Disco music was also very impactful during this time; although the soundtrack was not broadly recognizable to a North American audience, Ryoo Seung-wan achieves to capture the essence of Disco through the music genre’s iconic rhythmic beats and funky tempo. Ryoo Seung-wan’s attention to detail here makes Smugglers an accurate representation of the creativity during the 1970s.

Another element worth mentioning is the excellent use of cinematography while the women dive underwater. These shots did not simply represent the effort put into filming in water but an attentive eye for composition and pure artistry. One scene that stood out to me was when the women would pass each other underwater. This shot combines superb lighting, composition, and artistic significance to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam painting. Therefore, this cinematic choice showcased the bond these women shared while appealing to crucial design elements of art.

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