The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure (해적: 도깨비 깃발/ Haejeog: Dokkaebi Gisbal) – Movie Review

TL;DR –  A fun romp across the ocean that does lean quite heavily into that slapstick world but nearly always lands the joke.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this movie.

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure. Image Credit: Netflix.

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure Review

Ever since the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise floundered, I have been looking for another film to step up and show just how good pirate films can be. Well, it turns out to find just such a film, I needed to dive up to Korea into a world of comedy and adventure.  

So to set the scene, in 1388 Goryeo Dynasty was collapsing, and some patriotic generals plundered the Dynasty’s wealth and took it far out to sea. Sometime later, we open with a group of bandits led by Woo Moo-chi (Kang Ha-neul) floating on a wreck ready for death when they are rescued by the famous pirate Hae-rang (Han Hyo-joo). Three months after the recuse, there is still friction between the two as they capture Japanese Pirate ships. However, this particular ship they captured is searching for a treasure, a lost ship of Goryeo treasures, and now they have the map.

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure. Image Credit: Netflix.
This is a film that knows how to land its action scenes. Image Credit: Netflix.

One of the film’s strengths is the cast that throws all of themselves into this sometimes absurd film. Kang Ha-neul as Woo Moo-chi rides the line between being cocky and being a dick and mostly lands on the former. Han Hyo-joo as Hae-rang is compelling in how much she kicks arse throughout the film and makes an excellent foil for Moo-chi. From a narrative perspective, I would not say that it is charting any new ground, and you will probably be able to map where all the relationships end up. But it all works because everyone has a commitment to leaning into the script, no matter how silly it may be. That commitment is sort of the glue that holds the film together, and it is great to see.  

The effects are not the greatest, such as a scene with clearly fake cattle. But then, I don’t think that matters all that much, because they are working within a budget, so they know when to spend the moment and when not to. For example, swimming through a bloom of jellyfish, or the animal companions that appear later in the film, or just everything in that final act, including what might be the most ridiculous use of a sailing vessel I have seen in a while, and that includes the recent Uncharted. The action is a lot of wirework followed by oscillating between slow motion and moments of extreme speed ramping. This oscillating creates a particular style that supports the more comedic vibe the film is going for. This also allows the film to employ these interesting long-single-takes   

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure. Image Credit: Netflix.
There are some aspects of the slapstick that could have been dialed back a bit. Image Credit: Netflix.

While I did like this film quite a bit, it is not to say that all of it worked. The pacing can be quite hit and miss at times. For example, the film takes a long time to get started, with more than a few betrayals that didn’t help the story, only the runtime. Also, this is a film that is very slap-stick heavy when it comes to its comedy, which will be a bit hit or miss for people. I didn’t mind most of it, especially the penguins, but there were some moments where they could have dialled it back a little bit.  

In the end, do we recommend The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure? Yes, yes, I would. To be fair, it is a bit clunky in places, and maybe the script needed another pass. However, none of that took away from the fun I had when it all fell into place. If you liked The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure, I would recommend to you Space Sweepers.

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

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Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure
Directed by
– Kim Jeong-hoon
Written by – Chun Sung-il
Based onThe Pirates by Chun Sung-il & Choi Yi-young
Music by – Leadingtone
Cinematography by – Shin Tae-ho
Production/Distribution Companies – ANEW, Oscar 10 Studio, Lotte Entertainment & Netflix
Starring – Kang Ha-neul, Han Hyo-joo, Lee Kwang-soo, Kwon Sang-woo, Chae Soo-bin, Oh Se-hun, Kim Sung-oh, Park Ji-hwan, Park Hoon, Kim Ki-doo & Sung Dong-il
Rating – Australia: M;

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