Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. A spectacular, engrossing, big-hearted film based on one of Korea's great national epics and made by that country's top filmmaker.
  2. This astoundingly beautiful Korean production is poignant, original, and engrossing.
  3. Reviewed by: Patrick Z. McGavin
    A rapturously beautiful, lyrically dazzling work.
  4. 90
    The film is unabashedly sexy, and its heady romanticism feels as right and as unaffected as Im's bold use of color and his equally bold decision to tell the story through traditional pansori narration.
  5. 90
    Unless you're deeply familiar with Korean culture, you've truly never seen anything like it.
  6. Reviewed by: Jared Rapfogel
    A multi-layered, experimental film, a film about storytelling, but the beauty of it is that it transcends the story at its center while still celebrating the virtues of a tale well-told.
  7. Im Kwon Taek's exquisite Chunhyang brings to the screen one of Korea's most cherished folk tales, a timeless romance in which the lovers are challenged by differences in class.
  8. A three-ring circus of visual pleasure, showing us the beauty of Korean garment, custom and national character.
  9. 88
    As magical as "The Wizard of Oz," the film leaves its spare setting and blooms into action in a colorful springtime world to tell the story of an epic romance lush with silken costumes, giggling courtesans, comic servants and rulers cruel and compassionate.
  10. Chunhyang is a movie — and a heroine — for all times.
  11. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    It's sweeping yet intimate, stately yet impassioned, stylized yet immediate.
  12. It's a good bet the average American moviegoer, however familiar with the rhythms of cinematic global culture, has never experienced such a handsomely self contained world.
  13. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    From the ravishing landscape photography to the exquisite costume design, the entire film is a stunning visual experience; rarely since Hollywood's golden age has the genre been so well served.
  14. The Korean director im Kwon-Taek has made more than 90 films since his first in 1962, and perhaps this explains why his latest, Chunhyang, seems so effortless and masterly. Based on a highly popular eighteenth-century Korean folktale, it's a movie that, stylistically, mixes the traditional with the avant-garde; the narrative may be ritualistic, but there's a let's-try-it-on-for-size friskiness to the filmmaking.
  15. All the backing-and-forthing between olden and modern days intensifies the emotional impact of a compelling story, and underlines the enduring power of narrative itself.
  16. Demonstrates that sometimes the simplest stories are the most profound, and certainly possess the most moral authority. It's a film that emphasizes loyalty and sacrifice, values that have become jokes in most other films these days.
  17. Chunhyang is an extravagantly beautiful movie that many viewers are going to love and others are not going to be able to sit still for. That's their problem.
  18. 70
    Proudly wears its heart on its sleeve, but it never becomes so swoony that you'll reach for your hanky.
  19. Im's movie approaches a seething, primitivist beauty that evokes Makhmalbaf and parallels the contrapuntal textual investigations of Resnais.
  20. 70
    The extravagance of the sets and costumes increases the theatricality; Chunhyang is an almost childlike delight for the eyes.
  21. Reviewed by: V. A. Musetto
    Beautifully filmed, and the star-crossed lovers, both played by first-time actors, are a match made in art-film heaven. But I must admit, the pansori singer got on my nerves about halfway through.
  22. A feast for the eyes. But not, alas, for the ears.
  23. 50
    Some people might find Chunhyang a chore to sit through, including me. Despite all of its accumulated period gorgeousness, or perhaps because of it, the film moves at a snail's pace, telegraphing plot twists miles before we actually arrive at them.
  24. The second-class status of women in Korean society is a reminder of Confucianism's dark side. For all its pretty cinematic images and well-meaning bows to a vanishing literary tradition, this movie is a celebration of that dark side.

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