A TAXI DRIVER needs to be approached as a kind of middlebrow mass entertainment. The kind that the less-aesthetically-advanced thoughtfully extol. The Korean diplomatic corp must especially love it. And it is fun for a while. The American equivalent would be something like ARGO. Which was not fun. But equally, err, liberal w/ the ol' artistic license (read: horseshit). Obviously Song Kang-Ho is beyond terrific.
One wouldn't think there would be a sense of levity in a film about the Gwangju Uprising in 1980 but Jang Hun's film seems to want to be both political and entertaining and takes full advantage of star Song Kang-Ho to try to pull it off. Unfortunately those moments of audience pandering do take away from the final result turning what could have been a powerful film into something more forgettable.
I saw this recently at an exclusive screening in London. Such is the star power of Kang-Ho that 90% of the audience were Koreans taking time off their trip to visit the cinema in the middle of summer! The two leads have amazing chemistry, and the plot, based on a true story, is paced nicely. But like most high budget Asian cinema it all gets a bit wacky fantasy towards the end, and quite laughable.