At South Korea's border with the North, troops guard the coast. Each bullies those ranking beneath him; tensions are high. PFC Kang and his friend Private Kim are on patrol when drinking ... See full summary »
Good Morning President is an abridged version of the politics and life of three different presidents. The three are: the older President Kim Jung-ho at the end of his term, the young ... See full summary »
Myung-sin, who has become a pirate, lives with hatred in his heart and endures the hardships, seeks revenge on the two nations, North and South Korea, using nuclear waste that has the devastating power of plutonium. Se-jong, a South Korean naval officer departs with his team of elite forces to prevent Sin's master plan of Nuclear Typhoon. Born under the same skies of the same race, but of a completely different nation... Living a life so different, the two point their guns at each other's heart...Written by
A secret cargo of nuclear detonators is pilfered in a daring, bloody attack by ruthless, nation-less pirate Sin. Naturally, this potentially damaging and frightening attack is covered up by the American 'Defence Intelligence Agency', but not before the South Koreans set their own man on trying to uncover the identity of the thieves and their intentions. South Korea is wary in the politically fractious 21st-century Asia-Pacific region of being caught in nuclear crossfire, especially when Japan, China, America, Russia are all vying for supremacy Thus begins an international game of cat-and-mouse as the volatile Sin (heart-throb and superstar Dong-Kun Jang) is tracked by crack, noble Navy officer Kang Sejong (Jung-Jae Lee) over hill and dale and Kang discovers Sin's plot to unleash a nuclear Armageddon on South Korea, using a super-typhoon to transport his payload. Why is Sin set on this terrifying course? As two heart-breaking flashbacks show, he and his North Korean family attempted to flee to the South in the 1980s, but were turned away and thrown to the unforgiving Chinese and North Koreans; victims in the capricious, unsympathetic diplomacy-game. Sin pledges revenge, but not before he's grown into a wiry, hugely capable soldier with a stern group of paramilitary types around him. Kang is (at first glance) the polar opposite to the tattooed and straggly-haired Sin: clean-cut, calm and proud of his homeland.
As we watch these two alpha-male Nimrods strafe and finally lay into each other, their battle might be understood as an unintentionally funny homo-erotic courtship. When they can no longer contain their raging lust and rip into each in self-consciously spectacular finale, their knife-fight will either be very moving or provoke laughter, since their knives almost become phallic in their symbolism, and the final act of seppuku is almost masturbatory.
Some might find that viewpoint unnecessarily crude and mean-spirited, but the film relies too much on hardware to either engage or entertain its audience. The most expensive South Korean movie ever made ($15 million, or something), this purports to be a serious, if populist attempt to reveal the unknown victims of the North-South divide. However, it's another example of the admittedly very shrewd and successful Korean film industry engaging in commercial one-upmanship, with each new blockbuster being more expensive, more impressive, more accomplished than the first. Typhoon obviously has an eye on the international market given that a good deal of the dialogue is spoken (stiltedly) in English and that the production-values recall a Jerry Bruckheimer or Tony Scott venture. The plot, save the historical context, is also a facsimile of innumerable race-against-time action films which you've seen a hundred of times before.
This would be just another dumb, lumbering spectacle, were it not for the commitment to the material that cast and crew show. This style of film-making is now utterly familiar from South Korea, and Typhoon owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Shiri and Taegukgi, with the threat of devastation and recall of the terrible violence between the North and South Korea. I'm getting a little bored of Dong-Kun Jang's acting style, which basically requires him to act bug-eyed and hysterical, but I suppose this won't change anytime soon, since he's making a mint out of it. Jung-Jae Lee is more subdued but equally disappointing; his facial expressions are quite limited. (Credit to them, however, the poor script hardly offers them much acting range.) Director Kyung-Taek Kwak has this type of male-melodrama down pat, having honed it in the terrific Friend and clichéd but moving Champion. Kwak tries to broaden his male-centric universe by introducing Sin's long suffering sister, who has only ever know suffering. Indeed, her history of sex slavery and drug addiction are likely to get one righteously angry, but not for long because Kwak's un-ending emphasis on the brother-and-sister's misery verges on self-parody. Likewise, the burgeoning 'understanding' between Sin and Kang, but their resolve to complete their separate missions, makes for a lack of real frisson, real hate.
Typhoon, from an unsympathetic Western perspective is just a faceless, expensive behemoth that begs for big office (and got it). I found its greatest failing not the constant dramatic overkill and over-emphasis (which at least kept me watching) but rather it's pedestrian direction. Kwak over-relies on his sets, special effects and production team, all of whom obviously put in the hours, but his action scenes are quite unexciting, especially when compared to the Bourne films, which beg comparison given the globe-trotting and the murky past the characters must dredge up. One knife fight is much like another, as is an explosion, a car chase. Even the final, desperate assault on the hurricane-lashed ship is tinged with tedium since its such a familiar scenario. Typhoon skirts boredom on too many occasions.
The film is not helped by poor editing and pacing, which contrives to leave us with a month-long gap in the story at one point, and a bathetic score which drowns out all the action. The film's only real interest is its staunch standpoint that South and North Korea should be left to resolve their problems unmolested by China, Japan or America, and it also provides a slightly compelling international backdrop. The film's use of real locations and constant hopping across Asia help ground it in a relatively realistic context: South Korea surrounded by real countries. Thankfully, the film-makers don't resort to using especially recognisable landmarks so the film doesn't feel too much like a travelogue.
Basically, the budget, stars and political standpoint make this something like essential viewing for fans of Korean cinema, but they should take warning this is hardly the industry at its best. Viewers in search of both fun and gritty politics should ('scuse the stupid metaphor) avoid it like a raging hurricane.
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