Once a good cop, Pil-jae (Myung-min Kim) now uses his knowledge and skills to act as a "broker" between criminals and his lawyer boss Pan-su (Dong-il Sung). One day a mysterious letter from...
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Once a good cop, Pil-jae (Myung-min Kim) now uses his knowledge and skills to act as a "broker" between criminals and his lawyer boss Pan-su (Dong-il Sung). One day a mysterious letter from a prisoner on death row grabs his attention. As Pil-jae investigates into the case for his own benefit, it becomes soon apparent that he would be dealing with a murder case linked to the powerful Dai-hai corporation and its ruthless leader "The Madame". Written by
Despite often returning poor to mediocre box office results, actor Myeong-Min Kim has always been quite a charismatic presence in Korean films. In this crime comedy thriller "Proof of Innocence", he plays Pil-Jae who was once a cop and is now acting as a broker between criminals and police. It is a rather familiar role for Kim: always smartly dressed, speaks bluntly without hesitation and cynical in his worldview. This character is your classic noir detective and Kim knows it. He plays the role with finesse and charisma that you do root for him even when he's hurting the feelings of the victim's daughter. Sadly the main character's likability cannot carry the weight of the entire film which embraces mediocrity.
The plot: A random letter by convict on death row lands Pil-Jae's attention. Initially Pil-Jae investigates to take revenge against his former colleague (who framed him as a dirty cop) but soon he realizes that he's kicked a hornet's nest. The queen of the nest is the Madam, who is the head of Dahai corporation (probably based on Hyundai), and she's a nasty business as women usually are in films like this.
There are nods to genre classics such as "Chinatown" and the audience of Korean cinema will recognize the current trend of "Rich villains vs Rough heroes" also seen in (and done much better) "Veteran" and "Inside Men". And it is with these comparisons, the film's problems become visible. This film does not offer anything other than simple plot progression. There's setup to intrigue, there's problem solving in the middle and then comes the solution. While "Veteran" had some memorable action sequences and "Inside Men" offered gritty and dirty look at high class society in Korea, this film offers neither and wastes its characters in obligatory clichés.
Cliché #1: Dong-Il Sung's character. The usual comedic relief sidekick (whose position would actually make him Kim's boss) who occasionally tags along and requires some rescuing later.
Cliché #2: The victims. Of course they are completely innocent. Of course they make all the wrong choices that make problem solving more complicated than it already was.
Cliché #3: The climax. After all that running around and getting beaten up, the solution to the crisis at hand relies on the old "Aha! I was recording this conversation all along!"
All this would be forgivable had "Proof Of Innocence" been at least entertaining. Sprinkling some stunt sequences here and there, giving it more shock value would have helped out a lot. Alas, director Kwon cannot escape his own below average directing skills. At the end of the day, not taking any risks in trying something fresh has created another generic product in already rotting pit of Korean cinema.
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