May, 1980, Seoul. Demonstrations denouncing the martial law proclaimed by the dictator Chun Doo-hwan disrupt the routine of Man-seob, a cranky taxi driver who curses the protesters who prevent him from working. Raising his daughter alone after the death of his wife, Man-seob is crushed by debt. Every fare counts. When he hears a colleague boast that he’s about to receive a colossal sum for taking a Westerner to Gwangju, Man-seob rushes to the rendezvous point to rob him of his client, a German journalist calling himself Peter. The latter intends to investigate clandestinely rumors that Gwangju is under siege by the army and that the government has cut off all communication between the city and the rest of the country. Man-seob, however, has no idea what he has embarked on.
Based on real facts during the Gwangju revolt, A TAXI DRIVER offers us a two-tier narrative that demonstrates with disturbing clarity how leaders with too much power can blind an entire nation. In addition to recreating Korea of the ’80s, Jang keeps his audience on the alert with chase scenes and a solid dose of suspense. In his second collaboration with Hoon after THE SECRET REUNION, the illustrious Song Kang-ho (THE HOST) delivers one of his best performances of his career, coaxing as many smiles as tears in his role of gruff but endearing driver.
A TAXI DRIVER is a powerful and important work that reminds us that our first duties as citizens are those of memory and vigilance. That has translated into gargantuan box-office returns for the film in South Korea, becoming the biggest hit of the year and also garnering the coveted slot as the country’s representative for the Academy Awards’s foreign language entry.
Synopsis written by: Anderson Le