Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Kundo: min-ran-eui si-dae (2014)
Dramatic and ferocious South Korean period movie with great actors
''Kundo: Age of the Rampan'' is a South Korean period film which has become one of the country's highest grossing movies ever upon release. It has also won eight awards in five different film festivals. The movie is primary an action movie and costume drama in authentic locations. The film has a sinister atmosphere filled with tension due to a charismatic acting by Kang Dong-won who is playing an ambitious villain and Ha Jung-woo who portrays a sympathetic antihero who becomes an inspiration for oppressed citizens. The fight scenes are filled with both brutal tension and elegant aesthetics. Despite the coherently dark mood, there are a couple of more amusing and emotional scenes that keep the movie dynamical over an epic length of nearly two and a half hours.
The story takes place during the late Joseon era and is partially inspired by authentic historic events. In a time of aristocratic tyranny, an illegitimate son strives for power and hires a poor butcher as assassin. Since the butcher is unable to complete his mission, he is terribly punished but manages to survive. He decides to change his life in order to protect those he was supposed to kill and fight those who have punished him. He changes identity and becomes a ferocious swordsman who helps the poor, persecuted and helpless people until the time is come to challenge his worst enemy to a final duel.
The only negative points about this movie are the fact that the story itself is quite predictable and standard for its genre despite a couple of good conspiracies and intrigues and the exaggerated final fight that feels incoherent if compared to the rather realistic fight scenes in the rest of the movie.
Still, ''Kundo: Age of the Rampant'' is a highly entertaining movie with lots of action and drama, great actors and characters and stunning locations and settings. Fans of historically inspired action movies can't get around one of last year's best Asian movies.
Conquering the genre throne and an impressive improvement over the first part
Since I'm a fan of dystopian movies, I decided to watch ''Insurgent'' even though its predecessor ''Divergent'' was quite shallow due to exchangeable actors, average effects, unimpressive locations and an ordinary story. The second part of the series came as a big surprise to me as nearly everything improved.
''Insurgent'' focuses just as much on a gripping and twisted story as on character development. The first part was overwhelmingly emotional and stereotypical at times and didn't have a strong story. This movie comes around with interesting ideas from start to finish.
The acting has become more charismatic and mature. Shailene Woodley was an average actress with average looks in the first part but her acting feels more realistic and unique in the sequel. The film feels also more serious because there are more interesting adult actors than before, namely Daniel Dae Kim and Naomie Watts who deliver a solid job. Kate Winslet's acting as main villain is much colder and meaner than before and improved a lot as well.
The effects have also improved but aren't overused in the movie. The different intense simulations the main character needs to go through are visually stunning. Only the three-dimensional effects could have been a little bit more present and didn't add much to the movie. The locations in this film aren't anything spectacular but they are all quite dark and oppressive. This movie's atmosphere is definitely more coherent and gripping than what we have seen in the first part.
The ending is also quite promising. On one side, the story that has been built up over two movies comes to a satisfying end while another intriguing story starts that has already convinced me to go watch the last two parts. It's up to you to decide whether you stop following the series or continue watching it from here on while the first movie didn't give you that choice as it ended with some sort of cliffhanger in the middle of nowhere.
In the end, both fans of the franchise and the genre and critics who didn't appreciated the flawed first part should give this movie a try. Despite the high amount of dystopian movies that have come out over the past twelve months, this film is easily the best of its kind and left the ''Maze Runner'' and the ''Hunger Games'' series behind.
It Follows (2014)
Interesting concept falling flat
"It Follows" is an independent supernatural horror movie that takes place in and around Detroit, Michigan. The nightmarish story, the electronic score and the use of wide-angel lenses are inspired by classic American and European horror movies from the sixties and seventies. Especially the works of Dario Argento, John Carpenter and George Romero come to my mind.
The main idea of the movie is fairly interesting. After sexual encounters, people are somehow infected since they are slowly followed by a supernatural entity that can take any appearance and which is trying to brutally kill them. Only infected people can see the danger while the supernatural entity isn't dangerous for anybody else as long as they don't try to interfere on purpose. It's impossible to kill the supernatural entity but one can chase it away by violently attacking it. Infected victims usually try to pass on the curse by having sexual encounters on their own but this doesn't seem to be an efficient solution either. The whole thing gets even more mysterious since it's not possible to pass the curse to everybody. Some people get infected during sexual encounters while others don't.
The movie tells the story of a female college student that got infected by her new boyfriend who tries to hide his real identity and whereabouts. Along with her sister and several friends, she tries in vain to escape from the supernatural entity. She also tries to pass on the curse to several friends who want to help her. The movie features in fact three quite boring sex scenes and much more useless sexual innuendo that only distracts from the story. Since the danger is still present, the college student and her friends finally try to set a risky trap to kill the strange entity for good.
The movie has sparked numerous interpretations in regard to the source of the supernatural entity and the film's symbolism. Some critics believe that this movie is simply portraying a nightmare and that there is no deeper meaning behind it. Others have interpreted the film as a parable on sexually-transmitted diseases and its consequences. Some people claim that the movie deals with primal anxieties about intimacy and first sexual relationships. As you can see, there are a lot of interesting questions around this phenomenon but none of these are actually answered.
Sadly, the interesting concept, the great vintage atmosphere, the brilliant score and the clever use of wide camera angles aren't enough to make the entire movie enjoyable. One of the main flaws of the movie is its constantly slow pace and lack of gripping tension. I have no problem with restrained supernatural horror movies but most of them get more and more menacing and end in a really intensive way. This isn't the case at all with this film. One constantly expects the movie to get a little boost as time goes by but it ultimately falls flat. Another problem is the generic acting and the exchangeable characters. I'm aware of the fact that this movie tries to portray a bunch of ordinary teenagers that get shaken up by things they can't fight or understand but the actors and especially actresses are so dull that one simply doesn't care about their fates at all.
In the end, this overrated movie wastes a really mysterious plot idea and great inspirations from classic genre films for a lackluster flick without any true highlights. Since this amorphous film doesn't have a real ending, there are rumours about a sequel with another interesting story. In this potential project, some infected teenagers try to trace the supernatural entity back to find out where it came from and how the curse started. That's why I'm not yet giving up on this project but as it is now, I would recommend you to skip this over-hyped revival flick and wait for a more interesting second instalment.
An innovating cult movie for decades to come
''Tusk'' is a movie that goes off the beaten paths. It's a potential cult movie which will be adored by some and despised by others for decades to come. It's almost impossible to have a neutral or no opinion on this controversial movie. It's not a question about getting it or not, it's simply a matter of personal tastes.
The story is quickly told. An American pod-cast host ends up in the isolated mansion of an old seaman in Manitoba who wants to share some stories about his life. One gets to know that the old fool is in fact a dangerous serial killer who despises mankind because he got intimidated, raped and tortured by the society after the brutal killing of his parents. The only thing that has ever shown respect to him was a walrus that saved him from a shipwreck in Northern Russia. In order to survive on an isolated island, the serial killer had to make the decision to kill his saviour just hours before he got saved. He regrets that decision and in order to relive this pivotal moment in his life again and to take revenge on a society that made him suffer all life long, the serial killer kidnaps, mutilates and tortures young men to transform them into walruses. While the imprisoned pod-cast host gets now mentally and physically unstable and begins more and more to act like a wild animal, his grounded partner and his cheating girlfriend realize that he is in danger. They arrive in Canada and team up with a drug addict and ex-police officer from Quebec to save their friend or what remains of his human body and soul.
The film is a grotesque that mixes black comedy, drama, horror and thriller elements all at once. The movie has many changes of tone. When you see the two main characters fooling around, the tone is humorous. A few moments later, you assist a burial after a suicide and the tone gets accusatory. The movie then cuts to an actress who is crying her heart out and complains about her cheating boyfriend as the tone gets depressing. Seconds later, she herself cheats on her boyfriend and the whole scene suddenly feels ironical. This film is filled with these fascinating changes of tones. You constantly change your mind about the different characters as well. The main character looks like a superficial idiot during his show in the beginning of the movie. His partner looks like the friendlier and smarter guy. His girlfriend looks like a confident, faithful and serious person. The villain of the story looks like an innocent old fool. Thirty minutes later, the main character has some intellectual dialogues and proves that he is not as dumb as one might have thought. His partner betrays his best friend by sleeping with his girlfriend who suddenly looks fragile, superficial and unfaithful. The old fool has become an intimidating criminal with a horrible past.
It's not just the tone that changes, the overall mood also does. What starts as a juvenile comedy movie in the key of ''The Interview'' turns into a bleak body horror film like ''The Human Centipede'', gets a touch of a crime comedy movie like ''Good Cop, Bad Cop'' and becomes an existential and nearly philosophical drama like the ending of ''I Saw The Devil'' for example.
Those who say that this movie is bland, superficial and thoughtless are wrong. This movie has more memorable scenes than ten others together. It's a matter of taste whether you like these scenes or not. The scenes of the burial and the close-up on the crying girlfriend shook me up. The ring-tone of the main character's cell phone and the weird dialogue between the French Canadian police officer and the serial killer in front of a shack made me laugh out loud. The torture scenes in the old mansion and the closing part in a zoo made me feel disgust, horror and sadness at once.
The movie also includes many cultural elements in a humorous way. The idea of including the topic of Duplessis' orphans in the movie was brilliant and shows that the makers of the movie know what they are talking about. The food topic and especially the details about poutines in the movie were completely absurd and hilarious at the same time. The discussions about hockey and especially the Quebec Nordiques were the best jokes about Quebeckers I have ever heard and I have witnessed many lukewarm attempts.
I'm going to admit that this movie is difficult. Those who are looking for a typical American comedy movie might get shocked by the explicit torture scenes. Those who are looking for a sinister body horror film may not dig the humorous parts. This film is not for closed-minded and light-hearted people who just want to get entertained. This movie will haunt you long after it ended in one way or another. All the things mentioned above make this film something really special. It's one of the few movies that still try to innovate at all costs. The more I think about the movie, the more I appreciate it and feel like watching it over and over again. If my review intrigued you and you consider yourself an open-minded and tough cineast, I can only warmly recommend you this incredibly entertaining mixture of the joyful and the woeful. For anyone else, try this at your own costs but don't tell me I didn't warn you.
Probably the best naval battle ever made in the history of cinema
"The Admiral: Roaring Currents" is an ambitious, epic and expensive historical action-drama from South Korea. This movie can already be considered a milestone of Korean cinema from several points of view. It became the biggest film of all time at the South Korean box office in 2014, with more than 17 million admissions and the first local film to gross over US$ 100 million. The costumes, set pieces and weapons were designed after extensive research that even Japanese historians were amazed by the reconstructions of the Japanese warships. General Yi Sun- sin is portrayed by the most famous and according to many including myself also the best contemporary actor from South Korea; the charismatic Choi Min-sik who rose to fame with his roles in the spy thriller "Shiri", the mystery-thriller "Oldboy" and the psychological horror movie "I Saw the Devil" among others.
The movie revolves around the Battle of Myeongnyang around 1597 which took place during the Imjin War when Japan tried to invade the Korean peninsula and even parts of Ming Dynasty China. After a disastrous defeat, the Korean fleet only consisted of 13 warships while the Japanese gathered 133 warships and around 200 logistical support ships. The Japanese fleet was headed for the Korean capital Hanyang to support their land's army but general Yi Sun-shin decided to battle the superior enemy in a strait. By using the dangerous currents in the strait and a tactically well chosen emplacement for his fleet, the admiral was able to destroy several Japanese warships and to push back the enemy. The unexpected defeat shocked the Japanese and encouraged the Koreans. Joseon Dynasty's navy was able to regroup with Ming Dynasty's army and the Japanese were expelled out of the Korean peninsula the next year.
The film shows us the weeks before the famous battle, an extensive depiction of the battle itself and its immediate aftermath and a short look beyond in the concluding minutes.
This movie is separated in two almost equal parts. The first hour introduces the viewers to the historical context, the desperate condition of the Korean navy and the inhabitants in general and the most important characters from both sides of the belligerents. I feel that this part of the movie is slightly too long. Instead of focusing on too many characters and a lot of tactical dialogs, the movie could have shown us the origins of the war to get a better idea of the entire context. It would have been a great idea to start the film with Won Gyun's disastrous defeat against the Japanese navy during the Battle of Chilcheollyang and to quickly show how a nearly defeated country arose from its ashes to gather for a final decisive battle. While the set pieces and special effects look stunning, the dialogs on the first hour of the movie are exhausting and the acting is only of an average quality despite the promising cast. Both the acting and the dialogs are somewhat wooden. There is no character one could somehow sympathize with and the acting is not what viewers will retain from this movie.
The movie gets a boost during the second hour that is almost entirely dedicated to the battle itself. Some people might think that almost an hour of naval battle might be overlong and repetitive but that's not the case in here. This is one of the very finest, if not the very best naval battle ever shown in cinema. There are many ups and downs during the battle, several different strategies are used and even the fights themselves vary from cannon fire, over confrontations with bows and arrows and intense sword fights to a few elements of martial arts duels. A few clever tactical tricks from both sides are also added to the epic battle. Acting, choreographies, images, score, sounds, special effects and stunts are reaching one high point after another in the entertaining second half of this movie. The last five minutes after the final battle are a short but nice conclusion closing the circle to the beginning of the film that gives the viewers the occasion to calm down again.
While the set pieces and most parts of the story are faithful to the historical background, some elements depicting the different historical characters and parts of the battle itself might be dramatized to a certain degree. That's why the movie has a slightly patriotic touch but this is only some minor criticism as this film isn't as exaggerated as many contemporary Chinese war movies for example.
In the end, fans of epic war movies will get what they desire. The naval battle is detailed, diversified, emotional, entertaining, epic and intense. It's probably the best naval battle in the history of cinema. This stunning second half pardons for a few lengths in the opening hour that sets the context of the battle in a solid but also slightly dusty and lengthy way. This film isn't the best Korean movie of all times by any means and maybe slightly over-hyped. Still, this is better than any comparable war history movie from the Western world I have seen in the past ten years or more. If you want to see even better Korean war movies, I can highly suggest you "Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War" from 2004 and "My Way" from 2011.
Fung bou (2013)
No firestorm but a stiff breeze
First of all, don't get fooled by the title or the description of the press release. There is no storm in this movie. I was expecting action sequences in the key of Korean movies like the drama-thriller ''Tidal Wave'' which takes place during a mega tsunami or the spy thriller ''Typhoon'' but ''Firestorm'' turns out to be a more conventional thriller. This movie may not be very unique but it's a quite entertaining two hours for fans of the action-thriller genre.
The story where a veteran police officer and his assistants face a notorious thief and his cruel gang is nothing new either but the movie includes a couple of side stories. Some people may say that these side stories are only hiding the weak main plot and rather distracting but I thought they were what made this movie a little bit better than just average. The relationship between a naive criminal who wants to leave his past behind and start all over again with his proud but sad girlfriend is really touching. This side story adds some emotional depth to the movie. The story of an undercover agent and his autistic daughter is also quite intense as it turns from a passionate story to the grisliest element of the entire movie which I found hard to digest but absolutely intriguing. The acting from the secondary actors is very good while the main actors Andy Lau and Hu Jun are not as outstanding.
An important element of this movie is obviously the fast-paced action sequences. Some of them are well filmed and really breathtaking. One can really see that these scenes were filmed by experts and that there is a solid budget behind the movie. I'm not a fan of CGI effects but the special and visual effects are bearable to well done in this movie. On the other side, some of these sequences are overused, repetitive and feel artificially stretched towards the end of the movie. Some of them are simply over the top even though these scenes are at least never becoming ridiculous slapstick elements as it's the case in several contemporary Hollywood blockbusters like ''A Good Day To Die Hard'' or ''Fast & Furious 6''. One really gets the impression that the action sequences and side stories try to hide the ordinary main plot which fails to come around with true surprises.
If you are feeling for a fast-paced and professionally shot action- thriller, you can't go wrong with this movie. Anybody who's expecting something more like a great plot, outstanding acting or revolutionary effects should watch another movie.
Bore Inc. 3.1.: Mocking Gay
I appreciated the first two movies of the dystopian coming-of-age franchise that is a little bit too closely inspired by "Battle Royale" but this first part of the third and last instalment is a massive waste of time and a cheap attempt at grabbing some cash from the numerous fan-boys and especially fan-girls. In my opinion, both occasional viewers and faithful fans should ignore this release, read the novel instead, and come back to the cinema for the second part of the grand finale. This movie only prepares for the last part of the series, a little bit like "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" but it's even worse.
Everything that I enjoyed about the entertaining first two releases is completely absent in this movie. The story has no tension at all and consists almost only of hollow dialogs. One could almost say that there is no real story. The rebels are trying to turn a few propaganda movies, the population is demonstrating against the Capitol and that's it.
Instead of survival action, we get to see depressive and lengthy chamber play scenes in grey bunkers. The colourful and exciting locations are gone and replaced by dark concrete structures that make even the most functional Soviet cities look beautiful. The special effects in this movie are not even close to the breathtaking images from the first two parts. Even the soundtrack of the movie is a lot more generic than before. One of the worst parts of the movie was when main actress Jennifer Lawrence suddenly started to sing. It sent shivers down my spine but in a very negative way and it reminded me of some lyrics from an old Puddle of Mudd song: "I never wanna hear you sing, you sound just like a little kid." Jennifer Lawrence' vocal performance must be the worst I have ever witnessed in cinema. Nothing improved in this movie and everything that made the Hunger Games franchise so popular is gone.
Even the acting is a lot less convincing than in the first movies as it mostly feels numb and unreal. Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin is pale and not credible at all in her role as nobody would follow such an uncharismatic leader in real life. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee looks like an annoying and old guy who thinks he is funny and cool but happens to be only embarrassing and stupid as he acts like he was mentally retarded. Even the characters I appreciated in the first two movies seem like pale copies of their former selves. I was eager to see Woody Harrelsen in his unique role as Haymitch Abernathy again but he only has a very small role and feels like a completely different character all of a sudden. Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket is a lot less colourful, eccentric and sarcastic than before. I'm aware of the fact that the general mood of the movie is supposed to be darker and more mature but the acting hasn't become more credible but simply shallower. In an unfitting contrast to this, Jennifer Lawrence is simply overacting her role as Katniss Everdeen. Every five minutes, you see her crying in a corner of her bunker, exaggeratedly hobbling through some ruins and yelling at everybody and everything when she's not pleased with something. In the first fifteen or twenty minutes of the movie, this acting seems like a welcome change to the tame acting of the others but a few minutes later one gets the impression that the main character has not only become a lot less mature than before but that she is simply out of her mind and dealing with important mental problems. It's not realistic at all to count on a bipolar princess who acts less mature than a twelve-year old and who only cares about her lover even though this is one of the least credible cinematic love stories I have ever seen to lead a revolution. At some point, her cringe-worthy emotional outbursts become unintentionally funny and would rather fit into a slapstick comedy movie.
It was incredibly hard to sit through the entire movie. I kept believing as I was hoping for an explosive ending and the only interesting scene of the entire film takes indeed place in the last fifteen minutes but it isn't worth the wait either. Giving three points out of ten in here is still extremely generous. Instead of making me impatiently wait for the final chapter, I'm now seriously asking myself if I should not give up on the franchise. I really liked the first two movies but this one here is plain awful. As I said before, read the novel or a short synopsis but avoid this hollow flick at all costs. It's not worth spending money on it, it wouldn't even be worth watching it if it was for free. This movie is easily the biggest cinematic disappointment of the year.
Geung si (2013)
Asian mythology meets stunning visual effects in an atmospheric, detailed and slow-paced horror movie
"Rigor Mortis" is a slow-paced but intriguing atmospheric horror movie that honours both classic supernatural Hongkong cinema from the eighties and nineties and Japanese horror cinema of the nineties and the early years of the new millennium. The movie uses mythological elements from both cultures. To dig all these elements, it's suggested to get informed about the mythological background and watch this movie multiple times. You will realize that each character in the movie represents a different kind of ghost from Chinese mythology for example. You might also realize that the strange tall people with the umbrellas that seem to have a random cameo appearance in this movie are actually soul collectors using their umbrellas as traps. You could also see that the cook and the priest are both Taoist priests but while one uses his powers to help people and fight demons, the other uses the same powers for his own selfish acts and helps to awake and strengthen the demons. As you can see, this movie is filled with many lovely little details. If you are looking for explicit gore or an extremely creepy experience, you are at the wrong address.
Something that largely contributes to the atmosphere is the use of lights and shades, camera angles varying from wide angels to claustrophobic short cuts and many special effects that especially use colours very well. The CGI effects never look out of place and aren't overused as in many other contemporary Chinese films, especially action movies. In his directional debut, Juno Mak manages to keep the basis of solid traditional horror movies based on an atmospheric use of lights and sounds, on creepy settings in a dirty public housing tower with old- fashioned apartments and on a menacing score and more contemporary elements such as the use of vivid flashy colours contrasting with the dark settings, computer-animated demons that sometimes look exotically supernatural and at other times disturbingly realistic and slow-motion camera sequences that add a nightmarish touch to the movie.
Apart of its detailed background and its consistent gloomy atmosphere, the movie can actually convince with some interesting characters. Each important character in this movie has a tragic tale to tell and some sort of development. Some of the background stories are actually quite touching and mostly deal with loss in one way or the other. The acting is calm, grounded and actually realistic and a welcome change if compared to the usual hysterically screaming teenagers. There is not really one outstanding acting performance but each actor and actress does an above average effort in this film.
It's hard to talk about the plot itself as several individual fates and different stories end up leading to something bigger and a fatal last fight between some courageous apartment tenants and some evil creatures. The movie also contains some sort of twist or alternate story if you want to which is revealed in the last three minutes. This twist is nothing really surprising after all and maybe the only real weak point in here but you have to understand that what matters in this movie is not really the outcome of it but the way things unfold. The way between start and finish is much more intriguing than the short overture and the grand finale themselves.
Now, if you care for atmospheric, mythological and slow-paced Asian horror cinema where you have to use your brain a little bit, this is definitely one of the most original movies in many years. If you are expecting the usual graphic shocker or scary supernatural film that solely wants to entertain, then you might actually dislike this film. Make sure to be familiar with Asian horror cinema before checking this movie out and you might enjoy your overall experience even more.
Bu er shen tan (2013)
Rabbits don't come easy
"Badges of Fury" is a short and fast paced action comedy movie which is certainly entertaining but overall disappointingly superficial.
The movie has a clever marketing strategy and includes many cameos by famous Chinese stars which include not only actors but also sportsmen for example. The longest cameo includes Jet Li who appears from time to time in this movie but doesn't really play an important role as the trailers might suggest. Even when he's there, his acting is wooden and lifeless and this could be considered his worst movie ever and I'm saying this as a big fan who has watched almost all of his movies.
The film is also a parody of several Hongkong blockbusters from the last thirty years. Some of the insinuations are funny, for example when the main characters coincidentally capture a fashion icon who is behind online piracy acts. Most jokes are though either silly in a very childish way when we get to hear weird cartoon noises during some action scenes and overacted reactions by some of the characters. These ridiculous noises that seem to be taken off some old Looney Tunes episodes are overused in the first half of the movie and get completely dropped in the second part. Other jokes are simply sexual innuendos as we get to see many close-ups of Liu Yan's big breasts which get a lot of attention from female and male characters throughout the entire film. In general, men are mostly portrayed as dumb and superficial machos while women are mostly portrayed as silly sexual objects. I'm someone who likes to laugh a lot and this includes dirty and slapstick humour but this kind of silly rehashed comedy is nothing but embarrassing.
The action scenes are quite a mixed bag. Most of them are voluntarily exaggerated and feature massive CGI effects that kill any kind of charm that the parodied Hongkong classics have. Still, a few fighting scenes are well executed and filmed. They are filled with adrenaline and grace and use several interesting items as weapons. Even in his weakest movie, an elderly Jet Li can still show off his incredible talent and his acolyte Zhang Wen does a quite convincing job if one ignores the distracting slapstick moments during his fighting scenes. On the other side, the final fighting scene involving Jet Li is overlong and unspectacular.
The plot of this movie is extremely odd. The film starts with three random slapstick murders where the victims all die with a strange smile on their faces. The main suspect of the movie is a shy actress with good manners in her late twenties who hasn't got her breakthrough yet and who was engaged to each victim over the past years. Her sister soon becomes another important suspect as the superficial beauty with bad manners stole each of her sister's fiancés and sold insurances to them that made her a wealthy woman when they died. The unpredictable final twist of the movie where a rabbit gets pulled out of a hat is though so absurd that it even feels misplaced in a slapstick comedy flick. In between the morbidly amusing opening and the forced twist followed by a stereotypical happy ending, a few more plot lines are introduced only to justify many pointless cameo appearances. None of the few potentially promising ideas such as the relationship between the two investigating officers or the meeting of the criminal gang at the beginning of the movie are pushed further. Any kind of character development is completely absent in this hollow movie.
In the end, this movie is bearable because of a few gripping action scenes, a couple of acceptable jokes, a high number of cameos by famous actors and allusions to classics any Hongkong cinephile should know and the fact that one is impatiently waiting for the outcome of the story as the tension slightly increases even if the twist ends up being a huge letdown. Despite its obvious flaws, I was overall very well entertained by this dynamical movie for the reasons mentioned above. I would surely watch it again in a couple of years. Those who are mainly planning to watch this movie because they are expecting an explosive martial arts blockbuster with Jet Li should be careful though and rather rent the film for a reasonable price instead of buying it or going to the movies.
Well-executed and twisted spy movie with a little lack of originality
''The Suspect'' is a South Korean action-thriller in the vein of several contemporary spy movies like ''The Berlin File''. The movie tells the story of a North Korean defector who has once been a top special forces agent. After years of loyal service to his country, he became the victim of a conspiracy and purge. While the defector was able to make it to South Korea, his wife and young daughter were killed. Filled with grief and anger, the defector is now working as a chauffeur for a warm-hearted chairman who wants to help the North Korean people by developing a chemical product that could improve agriculture and prevent future famines. One day before a crucial meeting in North Korea, the chairman gets assassinated by some obscure members of the South Korean intelligence service. The defector witnesses the crime and fights the assassins but he can't save his boss. The dying chairman though gives him his glasses which hide the formula for the chemical product. The defector gets now hunted by the South Korean intelligence service who accuse him for the murder of the chairman and want to get the formula. The manhunt is led by a tough colonel who wants to eliminate the defector at all costs but who soon realizes that his boss is hiding a sinister secret and that things are more complicated than they appear. With the help of an ambitious journalist, the defector wants to uncover the secret of the chairman's glasses, clear his name and fight the true murderers and also find the man who killed his family.
On the positive side of the movie, one gets a twisted and tension-filled story line. The movie is gripping and entertaining and never gets boring despite a running time of almost two hours and a half. The acting is solid and especially the defector, the colonel and the main villain are portrayed in authentic ways. The movie has some character development and spends enough time to add some depth by telling a few side-stories in form of flashbacks. The action scenes in the movie are of the highest quality and at least as good as similar contemporary Hollywood movies. One gets to see agile and yet brutal martial arts fighting scenes, brutal shootings and breathtaking car chases. Some of these scenes are unrealistic and over the top but they are definitely fun to watch. Despite all the action and brutality, the movies manages to keep a human core and comes around with a moving ending.
On the negative side, I must admit that this movie obviously picks up several ideas from past South Korean but also international spy flicks. The story line of the movie is not really original and several parts of the film are in fact quite predictable for genre fans. The script could have been more innovative in my opinion.
Despite this obvious flaw, genre fans should still watch this movie as it's among the better South Korean spy movies of the last years. It easily beats ''The Berlin File'' and is probably on one level with movies like ''New World'' but obviously less groundbreaking than ''Shiri''. For international fans, you will probably appreciate this movie if you liked the films of the Bourne franchise.