Dir: Kwak Kyung-Taek
Star: Lee Jung-Jae, Jang Dong-Gun, Lee Mi-Youn, David Lee McInnis

You can sense what this film is attempting to do: ape a Western action flick, not least in its breathless whizzing between Russia, Korea, Thailand and just about every other country in eastern Asia, it seems. However, while technically it's up to the standards we'd expect, with some nice effects and so forth, it fails on just about every other level, mostly due to a script that abruptly shifts focus from hero to villain, and never achieves any degree of flow. Sin (Jang) hijacks a load of nuclear detonators, as part of a plan to extract revenge on South Korea, who rejected his family's asylum bid twenty years previously, as they tried to escape from the North. To stop him, Korea turns to naval officer Kang (Lee JJ), who finds himself gradually respecting and understanding his foe's motivation for mass murder, even as he uses Sin's long-lost sister (Lee MY) as bait.

If collecting an impressive number of air miles, the film stumbled and lurches through a first half that fails to establish Kan. It's clearly trying to present him as the opposite of Sin, and does succeed if that means he possesses absolutely no characteristics of any interest. He is stoic, dutiful and boring as hell. We are thus left to try and relate to Sin, despite the film opening with him murdering sailors in cold blood. By the time the movie gets round to giving us anything significant from which to empathize, it's a lost-cause, and the attempts come over as melodramatic, throwing everything up to and including terminal illness into the mix. His final actions make no sense, and I was left to wonder what the entire point of the detonator heist was to begin with, since it's giving little away to say they don't seem necessary to his grand scheme. Really: if I want to watch badly-plotted action films, there are enough of them in Hollywood, thank you very much. We really don't need to import additional examples from overseas.

[November 2008]

This typhoon blows
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