|Index||4 reviews in total|
I decided to review this title, because of the other reviewers who did
not give the film what it deserves.
As someone said: this is a crime film, without clearly "good" or "bad" characters. Sometimes it's a bit hard to follow the plot, but I don't think it's a problem. When you finish watching the movie, all will be clear.
The movie is gripping, ruthless and satirical. There are some very funny moments and one will find cynicism in almost EVERY SCENE. Modern grotesque, great plot and AMAZING performances from the leads are the pros of this film. You will most likely be gutted by both the complexity and "charisma" of those 3 main characters.
Pay attention to why is this movie titled: "The Unjust".
I absolutely recommend this to everyone. Though it lacks the "tricks" of cinematography, it's still very stylish in plot and powerful in execution. Pure entertainment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a film that is about the hunt for a suspect who is raping and killing young girls. The police think they have a suspect but he's shot by a cop who is an uncle of a victim, and without strong evidence they have to do something that will satisfy the public. A frame up is in order and they talk a good cop with problems complete the frame. From their the story spins out as tale of corruption and back stabbing as everyone wants to get ahead (and everyone's loyalties seem to be on one side or another of a real estate deal) More or less a tight knit drama for most of it's running time the film cracks in the final 20 or 25 minutes with a bit of violence and a few twists that seem tacked on and which deflate much of what was going on. I really liked it, and would have loved to have seen it on a big screen, but the end with it's unremarkable twists disappointed me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie starts with a sensational serial killing case shocking the
whole nation(this is probably the third or fourth time I encounter the
serial killing in Korean movies in this year). Recently having a prime
suspect get killed, the police have lots of pressure from the citizens,
the media, and, above all, the President who demands that the case be
solved as soon as possible. They must find a way to solving the case or
any other ways for retaining their public image.
They choose Choi Cheol-gi(Hwang Jeong-min) as the new chief of the special investigation team. He is a cop with the good record, but that is not the main reason he is chosen for; he is chosen due to his lack of personal connections. If the investigation is failed, his discharge will not hurt anyone in the police. Cheol-gi knows that well when one of his superiors personally asks him to take the case, but he accepts it. He has been always denied promotion(mainly because he did not graduate from the Police Academy) and is willing to bet his career on this murder case.
However, the movie is not about solving the murder case. Under his superiors' silent consents, Cheol-gi does a risky cleaning job. With his men he trusts, he assembles the other possible suspects and analyzes them for sorting out the most plausible suspect. It does not matter whether that suspect is guilty or not. All Cheol-gi has to do is asking Jang Seok-gu(Yoo Hae-jin), a mob boss who has been associated with him, to get the suspect and 'persuade' him to be the serial killer the whole nation is looking for. Their scheme ends up being successful and everybody goes happily along with it. However, the things get messy for them when the case is handled by prosecutor Ju Yang(Ryoo Seong-beom), who also has his own dirty business to be taken care of.
With the original screenplay by Park Jeong-hoon(the writer of "I Saw the Devil", the most controversial Korean movie of this year), the director Ryoo Seung-wan("The City of Violence"(2006)) carefully maps out the positions of his three main characters and others from the start with the subtitles informing the date, the time, and the names. As the plot thickens, the details about their complicated relationships are succinctly delivered to us and we come to understand how they affect each other as well as their motives. Their interests are so entangled with each other that one conflict of interests logically results in other conflict. Or, the one is solved, and then here comes another one. This seems endless until someone is pulled out from this power game.
While closely observing the dynamics between them, the movie looks far more widely at the system and its excruciating mechanism in the Korean society. It is not different from what you saw in HBO TV series "The Wire"; the system is adamantine and the individuals are usually helpless in front of its effects especially in case of the ones occupying the lower strata. Although there are some shifts in the power game, it is eventually clear that who has the power to wield and who is the nearest at the top and who will remain no matter what happens. Although Ryoo Seung-wan said he was not intended to make the movie as a social critique, the Korean audience will feel lots of familiarity to the society shown in the movie thanks to the recent big scandals associated with the Public Prosecutor's Office. They probably have gut-chilling feeling at the end of movie because they know too well that this is how the system works not only in the movie but also in their reality.
Regardless of whether the movie is a social critique or not, Ryoo Seung-wan makes a compelling urban noir movie. Compared to his previous works, "The Unjust" is a more controlled work with lots of confidence as usual. The pace is brisk in most parts, the humor is well-integrated into the story, and the characters are solid. The world they inhabit is presented realistically as well as stylishly from the filthy garage disposal factory to the luxurious gallery party. There is only one notable short action scene in the movie, but, even with that scene, Ryoo proves again that he is very good at making effective physical action sequence; you can really feel the desperation in their struggle.
A lot happens in this action film, and inter-relations between
respective characters were not always clear to me. For example, several
people were blackmailed, bribed or otherwise pressured, but you could
not always determine who was giving and who was taking. Further, the
amount of violence in several scenes depressed me, and was unnecessary
to show this explicitly. It did not contribute to my appreciation.
Like in the real world, no one in this film was 100% good or bad. I saw more than my daily dose of ugly behavior, in fact being a mixture of good and bad. Loosely translated, most people had the best of intentions but less commendable methods to get what they wanted.
The complex relations between the main characters leads to confusion in the story line. It makes this film feel too long for its contents, regardless of the things that are continuously happening throughout the 120 minutes. Hence there should be no reason to get bored. But still, the lack of purpose and direction of what we see happening, does not work out well to maintain our attention.
Satire seemed an essential part of the film. What I found particularly hilarious was how hierarchical lines work in those circles, and how people behave differently when their boss (or even higher) is present. It was way different from what I am used to (warning: I may be prejudiced, living and working in The Netherlands, where subordinates are infamous for their "Yes, but..." type of cooperation).
All things considered I see not much reason to recommend this film, but that is not due to technical flaws or lack of action. What I particularly miss is the logic in the proceedings. I can accept that I'm alone in this, however, and that I did not pay enough attention to catch the plot.
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