Musa (The Warrior) (2001)

 

 

Director:     Sung-su Kim. 

Starring:     Woo-sung Jung (Yeo-sol), Sung-kee Ahn (Jin-lib), Jin-mo Ju (Choi Jung), Ziyi Zhang (Princess Bu-yong), Yong-woo Park (Ju-myeong), Jeong-hak Park (Ga-nam), Hye-jin Yu (Du-chung), Seok-yong Jeong (Ha-il), Du-il Lee (Ji-san), Yeong-mok Han (Dan-saeng).

1375, Korean Koryo warriors band together to help save a Princess of the Ming dynasty from the Mongols of the former Yuan Dynasty

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

"1375.  The first year of the King Woo Dynasty in Korea.  Meanwhile, in China, Chu Yu An-chang established the Ming Dynasty and drove the Yuan Dynasty north of the Great Wall.  Relations between Korea and the Ming rapidly deteriorated after the brutal murder of a Ming diplomatic envoy.   Once the relations between the two countries finally improved, most of the diplomatic envoys were able to go home.  But there were others who were unable to return."

The Korean delegation arrives.  Since the castle is still being built, they will stay in the guest quarters.  General Choi of Korea's Yongho troops asks why there is nobody to greet them?  Suddenly all around them are Chinese troops.  A man answers that they are criminals and they must disarm themselves.  They are accused of murdering the Chinese envoy and meddling in Chinese affairs.  "And now Korea sends its army.  You call this diplomatic relations?  Arrest them!"

The Koreans are marched into the desert.  At a rest stop arrows start falling on the group killing both Chinese and Koreans.  It is Cokotemure's army.  The General says that they have no problems with the Koreans.  But anyone who is of the Ming Dynasty must die.  After killing all the Chinese, the cavalry rides away. 

The Korean's chief envoy is dead.  Their second envoy says that they should camp right where they are.  By doing so, the Ming Army from Lanjoo will arrive.  General Choi wants to keep moving on because any Ming Army will think the Koreans murdered their people.  He says they shall go home over the desert. 

The men are soon tortured by a sand storm.  They end up having to lay down in the sand and wait for the storm to stop.  When it does stop some of the men are buried under the sand, while others went off in different directions.  The diplomat says that even if they get to Shangong, a boat will be necessary for them.  General Choi tells the diplomat not to let himself be concerned about it.  They will go.  As the General starts to ride off he is stopped by a tall fellow named Yeo-sol.  The General slashes at him with his horse whip, but Yeo-sol just grabs the whip.  He is knocked down by a soldier behind him.  The diplomat begs the General not to deal too harshly with Yeo-sol.  He is his slave and Yeo-sol just wanted to help him. 

The leaders of the expedition plot out their strategy.  The Great Wall of China is where the Ming and the Yuan forces are at battle.  General Choi says they will just have to pass in-between the two armies.  It will take twenty days for them to get across the desert.  And they have got enough food and water for only six more days.  So, says the General, we will make the journey in ten days.  They will eat only once a day and walk through the night. 

The diplomat says because of his age, he cannot continue.  He sets Yeo-sol free and tells the General that now the former slave has to be treated as a free man. 

The General speaks with Lt. Ga-nam, who served in many battles with Choi's father.  Ga-nam assures the General that he will do as well as his father

The next day the General learns that the second envoy has disappeared.  They see Yeo-sol on the second envoy's horse.  Behind him he drags the envoy's dead body on a litter.  The General gives permission for Yeo-sol to bury the envoy, but they take his horse.  Yeo-sol starts dragging the body across the desert. 

They come upon a caravan at rest and ask if they can have some food.  They are refused and it looks like there might be a violent confrontation.  But another man comes forward.  He tells the leader Lo Pang that the men will eat here.  He will take care of it.  His name is Jisan and he is a Buddhist clergyman. 

Mongol soldiers arrive on horseback.  With them they have a Chinese Ming Princess.  The Princess and General Choi notice each other.  Later the Princess drops a handkerchief out of the window of her carriage.  Choi picks it up.  Written on it is the message:  "Save me!"  As the men sleep, Yeo-sol arrives with the envoy's body. 

In the morning a merchant starts complaining about the presence of a corpse in their midst.  He is starting to chew out Yeo-sol, when the former slave lops off the head of the merchant.  Yeo-sol is then surrounded by six or so of the merchant's compatriots.   But Yeo-sol kills all of them.  Then a great many Mongol soldiers surround Yeo-sol.  The Mongol General tells his men not to hurt the warrior, so the soldiers take him down with the use of a number of ropes thrown around his body.  The General says that this excellent swordsman will join their ranks.  And he (the Mongol General) will pay for the five soldiers that Yeo-sol killed.  The Koreans are powerless to stop them.

The Koreans bury their second envoy.  Jisan says he will go with the Koreans, because he knows the roads around the area.  But General Choi says they will wait here because the Yuan army has Her Highness.  He adds:  "We will save her."  He tells his men that if they can help the Ming Dynasty by saving the Princess, the Koreans will be seen as heroes.  Choi says they will attack the Mongo escort for the Princess with Yongho's squad at the front and Sgt. Jin-lib at the rear.

The Koreans are on top of a ridge and the Mongol escort is in the valley.  Sgt. Jin-lib fires an arrow that lands in the neck of one of the escorts.  The Koreans run down into the valley.  The order is given to attack the horses and save the Princess.  Yeo-sol gets free and joins the fight.  The Princess gets out of the wagon and runs away.  Yeo-sol kills two of he three Mongol soldiers that chase her.  He lets the other one, the General, live.  The Mongo General leaves on a horse. 

Bowing before her, General Choi introduces himself to the Princess.  She says she is Princess Buyong.  The Princess has to get to Nanjing and if they accomplish this, the men will receive a reward.  A little later she asks that Yeo-sol guard her carriage.  Choi tells Yeo-sol to guard the carriage, but the tall fellow says he's going to visit the grave of the second envoy.  The men grab Yeo-sol and throw him to the ground.  Choi says to leave Yeo-sol and the one Yuan prostitute that survived the battle behind.  But the Princess overrides Choi when she says:  "Take everyone!"

The Mongolian General reaches his base camp. 

The Princess goes to check on the condition of Yeo-sol.  The sergeant tells her he will be okay.  When Yeo-sol awakens, the sergeant gives him some hair of the second envoy and tells Yeo-sol that his Master was buried in a good place. 

The Yuan leader at camp says General Chu Yu An-chang will be anxious to have his daughter back.  Yes.  They must move north.  The leader tells General Rambulhua to bring the Princess to him. 

General Choi talks with the Princess about getting him an audience with the Emperor.  He thinks they will be able to resolve the misunderstanding that got them forced into the desert in the first place. 

A scout rides back to tell General Choi and the soldiers that the enemy of 100 men are nearly upon them.  The General says they will attract the enemy to the carriage.  He puts the prostitute in the carriage to act as the Princess.  The prostitute is very scared and tries to run away, but they grab her and force her into the coach.  Yeo-sol says he will go with the young boy who is very frightened to be driving the carriage.  The Sergeant tells Yeo-sol that just beyond the mountain is the Yellow River.  They will wait for him there.  The Princess tells Yeo-sol to return safely.  The carriage takes off.

The Mongol soldiers see the carriage.  But the General in charge says the Princess can't be in the carriage or they would have had more guards around it.  He tells his men they are going down to the Yellow River to destroy any ferries and the villages there so the Koreans can't cross the river.  The General sends a few men to the carriage to kill the guard.

The young driver named Dan-saeng sees the Mongol soldiers coming, jumps off the carriage and makes a run for it.  Yeo-sol becomes the driver and he pushes the horses hard.  Yeo-sol kills the men send after him, but falls off the wagon in the last fight.   The carriage carrying the prostitute crashes, but the prostitute survives.  Yeo-sol smiles to find her alive. 

The Mongols destroy the villages.  The General gives the order to kill everyone. 

A scout reports to the Koreans that the Mongol soldiers are hiding near the river ferry.  They are slaughtering anyone and everyone who tries to cross the river.  Some villagers in hiding come out to be with the Korean troops.  The Koreans learn from them that Balhae Bay is not far away and they might get a boat there to cross the sea, but the soldiers say they will not leave until the carriage returns.  General Choi is not pleased because he is sure the carriage and its personnel are all dead.   Nevertheless, the three from the carriage arrive at the camp.  The Princess seems to really like Yeo-sol and General Choi is jealous. 

The next morning the Korean troops and the villagers start off for Balhae Bay.  Progress is slow.  They have spotted ten Yuan soldiers.  The Koreans guard the rear of the convoy.  They send Dan-saeng off running to attract the attention of the enemy.  Most of the rearguard, however, becomes surrounded by Yuan soldiers.  They are all hit by the archers, including General Choi.  Only General Choi survives.  Three Korean soldiers not caught in the circle kill three Yuan soldiers riding amidst the trees of the forest.   One by one they knock off one Yuan soldier after another.  Yeo-sol arrives and finishes off the rest of the soldiers from that one cluster.   

One Yuan soldier is brought back to the camp by continuing to follow Dan-saeng.  He kills the prostitute and some villagers.  He and another Yuan soldier then chase after the Princess through the woods.   Yeo-sol arrives and kills one soldier while the other soldier holds a knife to the throat of the Princess.  Yeo-sol is able to kill that soldier too.  But the Princess is mad at him saying that he could have gotten her killed.  She slaps him and calls him a slave.  She goes back to the camp.  Yeo-sol seethes with anger toward her.   

The men want the sergeant to lead the group.  General Choi forces a confrontation with his men from which he has to back down, so he's in a very precarious situation. And the Princess is none too happy with him either. 

The Princess takes a walk accompanied by Yeo-sol.   

The Princess had a letter send out via one of the villagers.  But the Mongol soldiers capture him and read the letter.  It says:  "I'm Princess of the Ming Empire pursued by Yuan troops.  We are headed towards Wei-hi.  Send your troops." 

The Koreans reach the sea and the Ming clay fortress there, but there is no one there.  And the boat that was there has smashed onto the rocks.  And then the Mongols arrive.  Two messengers are sent down to speak with the Koreans.  They want the Princess handed over immediately.  If they don't hand her over, then they will all be killed.  Yeo-sol decides what to do by going out and killing one of the two messengers.  The Sergeant then kills the other with an arrow. 

Searching the fort the Koreans and the villagers find some bombs and other useful items. The Mongols attack.  It's a bloody fight.  A messenger arrives at the Mongol camp and the order is for the Mongols to retreat.  The men in the attack demand to know why they had to retreat?  The answer is that Cokotemure has died.   They will mourn here and after the mourning period is over, they will continue the fight.

The Princess tries to console a grieving window and gets told off by the widow.  The Princess retreats.  Yeo-sol goes to comfort her. 

Dan-saeng goes out to one of the Mongol wells to get some water.  He gets the water back to his compatriots, but is killed by an arrow while being lifted into the fortress. 

The Princess gets told off again, this time by a soldier.  And, completely unexpected, Yeo-sol threatens to kill the Princess.  This makes the General mad and he ends up fighting a duel with Yeo-sol.  The Sergeant puts a stop to it. 

The Princess gets told off for a third time and she has had it.  She asks that a horse be brought.  She is leaving.  General Choi tries to talk to her out of it, but she just tells him to get out of her way.  She leaves and Yeo-sol follows behind her.  He stops her horse.  She starts walking and he demands she come back inside.  By this time the Mongols are descending on the couple.  General Choi on horseback comes out and picks her up.  Yeo-sol stats wreaking havoc on the Mongols.  General Choi goes back out to help him.  Lt. Ga-nam goes out to help.  The General is knocked down and out, but Lt. Ga-nam puts him on a horse and sends it back to the fortress.  Yeo-sol is knocked down.  Then the Lieutenant is killed.   

General Choi goes to speak with the Princess.  She says that this is all her fault.  She felt like she was suffocating in the palace and so just left in order to be free.  But now she is just very frightened.  Choi says he is a coward too.  He believes he doesn't deserve to be a general. 

The Mongols place the badly mauled Yeo-sol outside the fortress.  The Mongol General believes that if the Koreans try to rescue him, the Mongols will be able to enter the fortress. And if they don't, the warrior is his. 

The Sergeant decides to kill Yeo-sol with an arrow to stop his suffering.  The Princess stops him.  They plant bombs in the central courtyard of the fortress.  When the Mongols go in the plan is to blow them up. 

The Mongol General brings Yeo-sol back to his camp.  The Mongols attack at dawn.  They thwart the Korean defense plan by throwing firebrands into the center courtyard setting off many of the bombs. 

The General and the Sergeant go to the attack.  They have decided to die an honorable death.  The Princess decides to do the same.  She kills a Mongol soldier. 

Yeo-sol joins the fight.  The Mongolian General decided to let him die fighting with his comrades. 

The Mongolian General  comes riding in.  He knocks General Choi down and throws a spear at the Princess but Yeo-sol jumps in front of her and takes the hit.  General Choi is able to get back up.  The Mongolian General and General Choi kill each other.  The Sergeant survives.  The Princess survives.  Some of the villagers survive.  The Sergeant has a boat build and sets sail for Korea.   

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

9181392 Goryeo Dynasty ruled Korea. 

1260  --  Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, has himself elected as Great Khan. 

1266  --  he ordered the construction of his capital at Dadu (called Zhongdu in the Jin Dynasty, 265-420; present-day Beijing).

1271-1368  --  Yuan Dynasty, founded by Kublai Khan.  This was the first non-Han dynasty to rule all of China. Korea became a vassal state of the Yuan Dynasty. 

1275 Venetian explorer Marco Polo visits Xanadu.

1276 conquest of southern Song.

1294  -- death of Kublai Khan.  By this time he Mongol Empire had broken up into four separate khanates. The Yuan Dynasty ruled over just one of them.

Towards the end of the Yuan dynasty, famine, plagues and peasant revolts sweep across China.

1350s  --  Korea regained its independence.  (But China garrisoned a large number of troops in north-east Goryeo.)

1368  -- fall of Dadu. 

1368-1644  --  Ming Dynasty, the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Hans.

1368-1398 rule of Chinese Emperor Hongwu.

The Mongols still posed a real threat to China. Hongwu maintained a strong military.  He built up the country's defenses against the Mongols.

1374 in Korea a military hero and high official named Yi In-Im led an anti-Ming faction that assassinated King Gongmin.  (China was not happy about this.)  Yi In-Im was removed in a coup d'tat so that the hostility in Ming China against the anti-Ming group would be lessened. 

1374-1388  --  rule of adolescent King U (or Woo ) in Korea. 

The Ming Chinese turned away Goryeo envoys en route to the Ming court.  They accused the Koreans of sending them old, weak horses as tribute.

 

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