Korea’s Big-Budget Mountaineering Drama ‘The Himalayas’ Scales Familiar Peaks


Based-on-real-events survivalism is all the cinematic rage of late. The Himalayas doesn’t have Leonardo DiCaprio in a fight to the death with a bear or Jake Gyllenhaal waxing philosophical as a blissed-out mountaineer, but the p.o.v. avalanche it opens with is bracing in its own right.

As with The Pirates — a 2014 swashbuckler that now ranks among the twenty highest-grossing movies of all time in South Korea — director Lee Suk-hoon proves a capable (if uninspired) hand at meeting genre expectations; rest assured that ladders will precariously bridge crevasses, oxygen levels will drop, and grand speeches will be made as our heroes face near-certain death.

The primary ascent involves a rescue party braving Everest in order to recover the body of a fellow climber who perished on a prior expedition. The question of whether such a venture warrants putting several more lives at risk is, of course, a thorny one, its moral weight bearing down on all involved like a snow-filled sky.

For all the big-budget spectacle on display, it’s the scenes that look to have been shot on a GoPro that most excite — only in these few sequences does The Himalayas begin to distinguish itself from its blockbuster ilk. If you’ve summited one mountain movie, you’ve pretty much summited them all.

The Himalayas

Directed by Lee Suk-hoon

CJ Entertainment

Opens January 1

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