In Missing we have a Korean take on the abduction themed neo-nasty picture, and what a generic take it is. Young actress looking for a break Hyun-Ah stops off at a chicken soup shop with a vaguely sleazy director, only to fall into the hands of the owner, only to fall into the evil clutches of the unhinged owner Pan-Gon, who cages her and subjects her to the expected indignities. And along the way Hyun-Ah's sister comes looking for her, and... well there aren't too many surprises here. Not much to see, quite literally as the film is rather restrained with only a few grisly moments and the impact of nastier scenes achieved mostly through reaction shots, the sort of work that brings off the odd brief wince but no real lasting squirmy impact. While Asian cinema often ups the ante in such territory bringing either psychological depth or full bore brutal theatrics, Missing generally lacks the excess of its more noted Western counterparts, and adding insult to injury opts to keep their flaws (inept decision making) instead. With all this it shouldn't be a remotely worthwhile experience, but it does succeed on minor terms, ending up a pretty watchable and by and large mindlessly entertaining affair. Seon-kun Mun is the definite highlight as the villainous Pa-Gon, playing with a low key loathsome menace tinged with pathos, one can see inside how he came to be how he is and the understanding complements his power as a baddie. Se-hong Jeon plays off him well as Hyun-Ah, sympathetic in her desperation with an edge of grit to raise her a little above the standard wailing victim. Ja-Hyeon Chu is decent as well as the investigating sister, convincing in her somewhat fearful determination. Along with the performances the setting and cinematography also work pretty well, creating a grim pocket of isolation just off the beaten track, a sense of fear that just past the outskirts of normality lurks evil. So the foundations are here, but not the crucial kick, a few neat jolts and twisted moments, some deaths and a wee splash of fun bloodshed but pretty much no scenes where the film really locks down to get fearsome, to really blast the audience somewhere dark and brutal. The end result was a film I found fun enough, pleasing enough, but not good enough to truly find memorable or commendable. Still a reasonably strong 5/10 from me though, the sort of film mostly to watch if you feel like you have to but one that won't disappoint too much if you enter with low expectations.
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