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North Korea's 8th Special Forces hijacks a shipment of CTX, a potent new liquid explosive, and threatens South Korea as part of a plot to re-unify the two countries. Ryu and Lee, special agents of O.P.--South Korea's secret intelligence service--attempt to track down the terrorists and find the CTX. Meanwhile Hee, the 8th's ultra-bad female sniper, resurfaces to wreak havoc and haunt Ryu. Written by
Swiri was the first Hollywood-style big-budget blockbuster to be produced in the "new" Korean film industry. This was due to South Korea's major economic boom that occurred in late 90's. See more »
The CTX convoy is shown driving to the right, including throughout the tunnel just before the ambush, but then it suddenly switches to the left side of the stripe when stopping at the checkpoint. See more »
Some plot holes but generally a really good thriller
Against the background of political tensions between north and south Korea, an elite group of soldiers (the 8th Special Forces) infiltrate the South with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks. Most worrying of all is the reappearance of deadly assassin Hee in South Korea. Special agents Ryu and Lee are assigned to bring down Hee, however when the group get hold of a hi-tech new explosive they hold Seoul to ransom for $10million. Meanwhile Ryu and Lee realise that there is a mole inside their agency that keeps Hee one step ahead of them.
Other reviewers have said that this film is a good addition to the `heroic bloodshed' genre of Hong Kong cinema, with it's gory bloodshed and bullet ballets. However I personally feel that this is to do the film a disservice the film doesn't just lift that style but rather delivers a solid thriller story line with plenty of well directed action. The plot is a detective story with the added boost of the terrorist attacks. It has a couple of nice twists along the way that work pretty well. The downside is that the plot occasionally makes minor jumps that are hard to follow, for example an action scene is immediately followed by a scene where the same characters are in a different situation, this happens twice and threw me a little. But these are minor problems. The political arguments are not too complex one reviewed said to go and read up on Korean history before seeing Shiri, this is far from necessary. It is quite simple but doesn't get in the way of the bigger thriller story line.
The action is not of the slow-mo OTT type seen in The Killer or Hard Boiled but is more like the extended gun battles seen in Heat. Yes, they are a bit OTT but they aren't as heavily stylised as in many HK movies. Instead the tension comes from the excellent direction. Using a handheld camera really makes the gun battles feel intense and very close to where you're sitting. The action does have some HK clichés but these are still well delivered.
The cast are all well Han Suk-Kyu (Ryu) does well with the action as well as the romance subplot with Kim Yoon-jin. The rest of the cast are good even the comedy odd-ball is good value, compared to the occasional Hollywood comedy character that can be grating.
I haven't seen too many Korean films but this was a particularly good thriller with intense action. Overall I enjoyed this film and fully expect America to pick up on the fact that it has action AND a workable story and commission a remake pretty soon. Wouldn't you rather see the original first?
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