(Korean: 택시운전사; Hanja: 택시運轉士; RR: Taeksi Unjeonsa)
This is a great South Korean movie from 2017. It is a very tight and watchable movie that clearly delivers on a political story. It starts with showing us the day of a poor Seaule taxi driver, and when he gets home we see that he’s behind on rent, and his daughter has punched the landlord’s son. So his life isn’t great. The next day, he is hanging out with the other taxi driver and overhears another table bragging about a large gig they have for the day. Our taxi driver goes to the place where a bragging taxi driver said he was to meet his client and steals the client. The client is going to another South Korean city a few hours away, but when they get close to the city it’s blocked off by the military. They then try to take the backroads but those are also blocked off. They convince the military to let them through by saying that the client, a german foreigner, is an important business man. When they get to the city, they find a group of student protestors, and the german journalist takes a camera and reveals that he’s a journalist. The story is of the journalist trying to the world of the protests in South Korea.
The colors are all bright and distinct during the first part of the movie. The main character wears a yellow work shirt that keeps him apart from other characters or other taxi drivers. When they get to the town, and get into the military protests the colors become darker, and hazier. Always the colors portray the taxi’s driver’s moral compass. It looks very good, and clean.
There are melodramatic elements. The music will swell telling you exactly how to feel during certain later scenes. There are liberties taken that go against the actual story, and some things feel a little over the top or sarachine, like the last action scene where a bunch of taxis out maneuvers military vehicles. It’s a recent historical movie and these elements of melodrama make it more watchable, and give more access to the story. It doesn’t really cheapen the message, mostly because it is a tightly written story.
A Taxi Driver is about an uprising I would have never otherwise heard of, or had any knowledge of, and it makes it a watchable, enjoyable, movie that does show the brulism but doesn’t just show the brutalism. The main character is reliable and interesting because he doesn’t just instantly know what the right thing to do is. He fights with himself, until he forces himself to do the right thing. A Taxi Driver was a wonderful surprise that I wasn’t expecting– but it might be too clean for some. It was really compelling, and few movies have captured my attention so throughout as this one. I was surprised by the direction it took, as I didn’t expect the political edge, and it has a heart with a story about democracy that has wide implications for today’s world.