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Film review: A Taxi Driver

Review by Eric Struch |
September 24, 2017
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This film is a must watch.
This film is a must watch.

Chicago, IL - All progressives, anti-imperialists and socialists should see the film A Taxi Driver. This Jang Hoon movie, starring Song Kang-ho as Kim Man-seob and Thomas Kretschmann as Jürgen Hinzpeter, tells the story of the May, 1980 uprising in Gwangju against the extreme right-wing military coup led by General Chun Doo-hwan.

The coup was organized right after the assassination of Park Chung-hee, the fascist dictator of U.S.-occupied southern Korea. Park was shot to death Oct. 26, 1979 at the Blue House presidential palace by Kim Jae-kyu, director of the feared KCIA secret police. Many hoped that Park's assassination would mark the end of the fascist Yushin era, but these hopes were dashed by General Chun's anti-democratic coup.

The student movement and militant young workers were ready and met the declaration of martial law with resistance on the streets across U.S.-occupied southern Korea. The mass uprising in Gwangju began on May 18, after puppet army troops massacred pro-democracy Chonnam University students who were demonstrating against martial law. The masses of people disarmed the cops and the soldiers and seized control of the city. Basic services, like public transportation, bakeries and gas stations, were run for free. Reporters from the city's newspaper published the truth about the coup and the army massacre. Food was distributed for free.

Song Kang-ho's character, a working class single dad, behind on his rent, drives a taxi in Seoul. He's an army vet, and deeply suspicious of the student activists due to his indoctrination during his time in the military. He steals another cabbie's fare, a German journalist who is trying to make it to Gwangju around the army's blockade. What Song's character sees in Gwangju changes his mind. He is given free food and free gas by the people's movement, and witnesses firsthand the puppet army shooting people down in the streets. He decides to help Gwangju cabbies evacuate wounded protesters to the hospital, which is still in the hands of the people. At the hospital, he begins to understand the true scope of what the puppet military has done: 3000 civilians murdered in a city of 730,000.

A Taxi Driver portrays the fascist military as the scumbags they are and glorifies the selfless spirit of the masses that was born in the struggle. It's such a breath of fresh air compared to the reactionary trash Hollywood cranks out. Please try to see this amazing movie!

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