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Some historical background about this movie and more
catalyst12321 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
During World War II, lots of Koreans are forced to leave their home land to avoid the brutal oppression of Japanese military empire. Some are drifted to Soviet Union, and some are moved to far eastern border between China and Korea. Named after their former nations name, Cho-Sun, the people who settled in China is called Cho-Sun-Jok (Cho-Sun tribes). As you know, after liberation from Japanese military empire at the end of World War II, north and south Korea begins terrible war and still sporadic battle is going on at their border. North Koreans build their own frantic communist-religious nation and south Koreans build a nation based on capitalism. By the geological and political environment, these Cho-Sun-Jok have close relation with north Korea but the booming economy of south Korea lures them. Also south Korean economy needs these cheap labor, today many Cho-Sun-Jok are re-immigrated to south Korea. But the huge social and economical difference between south Korea and Cho- Sun-Jok bring out many problems like organized crime, drug and prostitution.

The movie tells the story about three major characters. Gu-Nam, a desperate Cho-Sun-Jok taxi driver whose wife is moved to Korea for work and now missing, Myun-Ga (Mr. Myun), a Cho-Sun-Jok organized crime tycoon who sent Gu-Nam to Seoul to hit a wealthy south Korean with one-way ticket. And Mr. Kim who ordered hit to Myun-Ga. Abandoned and betrayed, Gu-Nam runs for life to find a way to go back to China and to his daughter, all of these is melted, surmised and finally run to a catastrophic ending.

Director Na successfully build a reputation as a director with his first mega-hit move "Chaser". In this film his cinematic power is more escalated to a new level. Actors who played lead roles in "Chaser" also did the role again. Especially the character Myun-Ga, played by Yun-Seok, Kim is the most brutal villain in the movie I've ever seen.

I think what current Korean movies differ from other nations, cultures is the depiction of blur between good and evil. In Korean movies, the really really bad guy have his own reason for his action, and good and innocent victim shows more insanity that can ruin himself and others.

Really worthy for your two hours of golden weekend. Two thumbs up.

P.S. The title "Hwanghea" means yellow(Hwang), sea(Hae). It is a strait between eastern China and western Korea peninsula.
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shockingly good, well directed, well performed
rightwingisevil4 January 2012
another near perfect thriller out of south Korea. i don't know what and how most movie festivals giving out award, but all movies directed by this director and screenplays written by this specific several movies directed by this specific director, the screenplay writer(s), both should have received the highest honors of awards. based upon my forty years movie viewing experience, i've never seen anything like these kind of well written, well directed and well performed korean movies. these movies mentioned by other reviewers are just on different level, making hollwood's films in similar genre like worthless garbage. watching every one of these movies just became a psychiatric treatment, the perfect and ultimate catharsis to drain the stress caused by the financial burden and bore-to-death day in and day out urban living, because nobody could be more down and out like the main characters portrayed in these movies, and not any common person, you or me, could be less lucky like these characters faced in their lives. korean movie thrillers are just so uniquely different from other countries, in my opinion, they are definitely on a higher level, higher than where the Hollywood, bollywood, Japanese, Chinese stand. because every time when i finished a korean movie like 'the yellow sea', 'the man from nowhere', 'i saw the devil'....i felt the stress that constantly burdened on my mind and shoulders would go away temporarily, i actually felt better and more alive. no other country's movies could have such catharsis-like effect.

highly recommended to those who got the similar burden like me.
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"Some lines were never meant to be crossed"
Yogesh-Odyssey-Opera9 September 2013
It's time to fete our Director Na Hong-jin for making a masterpiece like this. This is about his noir thriller "The Yellow Sea". His second film after a bang like The Chaser. The main success of this movie is for it's fast screenplay and some nail biting chasing scenes. Inspite of its long running time the movie tightly grips us during most of its running time.

Coming to story, The protagonist Goo-nam(Ha Jeong-woo) is a Joseon(Chinese of North Korean descent)is a taxi driver living in Yenji, China. Goo-nam's wife went to South Korea for work to lift their family. She promised that she would send money to him, but there has been no money sent by her, let alone any news from her. Goo-nam really loved her and meanwhile tortured by the possibility of her infidelity in his dream, but that is not his only problem. He has lot of debts including his wife's travel fare. He tries to solve his problem with gambling, but that makes his situation worse.The debt collector often visits and questions his pride.

After his fierce attitude in the gambling bar, Goo-nam is noticed by a local Korean mob boss/dog seller Mr. Myeon(Kim Yoon-seok). Myeon has a plan to solve his problem. If he goes to Seoul and kills somebody, his debt problem will be solved. Giving his daughter in the safe hands(his mother)he agrees to work. Under the instructions from Myeon, he illegally entered South Korea with other Korean Chinese.

He arrives at some coastal area without much problem. He goes into Seoul while not being noticed by the law enforcement. He stays in a lousy motel room. He checks out the place where his target lives. He is clever enough to devise a good plan while spying on the daily pattern of the target during the night. He also goes around Seoul for getting any clues about the whereabouts of his wife. There is not much time left, but he still cannot find her. The time is short, and he must do the job as demanded. It's a now or never situation,the night at the freezing cold Goo-nam anxiously waits for his target to arrive at the building. And then, something unexpected happens in front of his eyes. With an unexpected twist ,He is now chased by both the police and the mobs for what he does not commits. The chasing starts, even we feel sorry for the unfortunate things happening to this inglorious bastard in the merciless world.

The plot shines lightly and it turns out a mob boss in Seoul, Tae- won(Cho Seong-ha), is involved with the incident. After the involvement of police and the media far more than he has ever thought, he becomes panic. He attempts to solve his problem even before knowing what's exactly going on. This is a real critical situation, especially when Myeon comes to South Korea after the problem between him and Tae-won. Now both want Goo-nam in their hand. Reminding the chaser the good guy plays a very bad guy role here. Can't see the rage of fight with the bones. That's really a new route of violence. Thanks to the director the car chasing scene is really a nail biting high tension scene, he makes very impressive actions sequences. The camera is a little too running. And the plot changes in to unexpected twists. Overall it is really a worth watching experience. Can't wait for another movie from Na Hong Jin.
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The Yellow Sea starts with drama and ends with mindless action.
mrwickedproductions17 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"Start your life over."

Na Hong-jin, the director of the successful thriller, The Chaser, made another film two years later containing similar themes of crime, desperation, and gore. Both films have the same lead actors as well, instead this time, Kim Yun-seok and Ha Jung-woo switch places as protagonist and villain. And it works out pretty well for them. Ha Jung- woo plays Gu-nam, a poor taxi driver in the Yanbian Province (a Chinese region bordering North Korea and Russia). His wife left him and their daughter to go work in South Korea and send over money. The lack of communication from his wife for over six months has him worried and his debt only increases. In comes Kim Yun-seok's character, Myun-ga, a hit-man boss who offers Gu-nam a chance to pay off his debt and see his wife if he carries out just one hit in Korea. Gu-nam tucks away what little values he has left and hesitantly accepts, resulting in him being shipped off to Korea over the Yellow Sea. A complicated murder and chase story then begins.

Just like other Korean thrillers, The Yellow Sea is gruesomely violent and puts its protagonist through many harrowing situations. The film starts off strong, with a clear idea of where the plot will lead: Gu-nam goes to Korea, kills the man he's been sent to murder, and returns. However, things don't go as planned, resulting in Gu-nam being chased down not only by the police and Myun-ga, but by another hit gang as well. At this point, the movie becomes lost in its initial story of a man trying to commit murder for money and branches off as an hour long chase film. There are literally scenes up to 15 minutes of poor Gu-nam running from a fight he's been caught in the middle of. The chase sequences consist of a lot of action, including multiple cars crashing and flying into the air, without flashy CGI. Because of these chases, the film distances itself away from the characters, or more likely, the characters run away from the film. What starts as a film focusing on the characters' lives and internal struggles, ends up having less and less to offer about the protagonist's dark mentality, and more to offer in terms of physical fights and blood gushing from a hapless victim.

The Yellow Sea starts with drama and ends with mindless action. On the other hand, The Chaser is a continuous spectacle of psychological entertainment. Even so, The Yellow Sea proves that lovers of suspense and thrillers should continue to keep an eye out for Na Hong-jin's future works.
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A Yellow Stream All Over Hollywood
frankenbenz7 March 2013

I can't remember the last time Hollywood offered me anything mind-blowing. An industry now controlled by bankers for shareholders, even filmmaking geniuses like Martin Scorsese have been reduced to making pointless kids movies. Not even the so-called independent cinema in the US has been spared Hollywood's fixation with the bottom line, where the few table scraps left are thrown to a dwindling numbers of original voices still relevant. If ever we needed another Easy Rider inspired industry revolt, then now is the time.

With American cinema (not unlike the country itself) irrelevant and hopelessly behind the times, the only option North American cinephiles have, is to go abroad. One of the countries that's long since surpassed American cinema for shock and originality is South Korea. And it's not like Hollywood is oblivious, they're actually cannibalizing SK cinema by remaking Korean gems into pointless American knockoffs. The latest SK gem ripe for reproduction is Hong-jin Na's The Yellow Sea (Hwanghae).

Like Ravel's Bolero, The Yellow Sea understands the patient reward of crescendo: starting slow and building to a fevered climax. By the end of this, we're left with what seems impossible for an epic 156 minute film: wanting more. With the exception of one car chase marred by phony green screen cutaways (see the video below), the breakneck action, extreme violence and hyper-realistic gore is virtuosic. Guns noticeably absent, whooshing knives, devastating hatchets and the blunt trauma of gnawed animal bones provide The Yellow Sea with brutal, bloody and refreshingly lo-tech weapons of choice, a grim example of how Hollywood and it's obsession with appeasing demographics can't compete.

But The Yellow Sea is much more than just a knife brandishing ballet that hearkens back to early 90s HK bullet ballets, it's exceptionally well written and acted with none of HK cinema's clichéd melodrama. The characters here are many shades of grey, avoiding archetypal absolutes, allowing us to identify with and like even the worst of the worst. All of the action is beautifully composed with kinetic, hand-held photography that compliments the bleak color palette, which results in a gritty and ultra-realistic film, not unlike so many American masterworks from the 1970s.
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Grittily realistic and altogether superb
Leofwine_draca19 September 2012
An absolutely spectacular Korean thriller that a) does everything perfectly and b) engages and involves the viewer like few other films. South Korea is currently one of the hottest places in the world for film-makers; it was only last year that I saw the excellent MAN FROM NOWHERE for the first time, a movie that soon became a favourite. THE YELLOW SEA follows suit. Although it's a two-and-a-half-hour movie, it grips you from the outset and never lets you go.

If only Western cinema would take as many risks and gambles as this film does. It's not an easy watch; pretty much the entire cast is populated by criminals and murderers, and even the protagonist is a man who thinks nothing of taking on a contract killing job. Yet he becomes a character you root for, purely because he's less evil than the others out to get him; he appears to be a man of his word, at least as far as we can tell, and that counts for something in a dog-eat-dog world.

The film reunites the director and two stars of the excellent serial killer flick THE CHASER but THE YELLOW SEA is a different beast entirely: a wronged man-style thriller if you will. It packs a great deal of thoroughly exciting chase and action sequences into the running time; inspired by THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, each of these employs the shaky-cam to excellent effect, where you never miss out on the action. This is also an exceptionally violent film packed with knife and hatchet fights and brutal slayings that sit alongside more Hollywoodised foot and car chases.

The actors are excellent in their parts; so believable that you never question them for a second. Ha Jung-woo is particularly good because he never does anything to make you sympathise with him for a moment, and yet you end up doing so anyway; he's just a small-time guy who gets out of his depth and has to use his ingenuity to survive. His journey is one of the most gritty and realistic I've ever seen in film; it doesn't get any more engrossing than this. Kim Yun-seok, in contrast, playing people-smuggler Myun, is larger than life and his character's ability to survive against overwhelming odds is similarly profound. Beautifully shot and expertly scripted, The Yellow Sea is an example of cinema as it should be; if only more films were like this!
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One of the best thrillers ever, another hit from Korea
daffy20100418 July 2011
If you enjoy The Chaser or The man from nowhere, You will absolutely love this film. In fact, if you love thrillers...this is for you. The villain, is probably one of the worst villains ever, is also very funny. The main character who has questionable orals is still very likable and found myself rooting for him. The basic plot in one sentence is pretty much an assassination of a professor gone wrong. The main character find himself being chased by the police, the villain, and someone else (which I won't reveal or else it will be a spoiler.) The action scenes are so brutal but realistic. The scenes are fast and real tense. There twists are so good and fitting for this thriller. The action will keep you on the edge of your seat but your mind will be asking a few questions which will be all answered if you pay attention close enough. All the actors were excellent. The guy who played the villain was the "good" guy in the The Chaser. He played his character so well, I didn't even recognize him. His speech, mannerisms, and expressions had me believe his character. I also loved the ending which could be debated.
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Another hit from Hong-jin Na..
Jack_Coen1 October 2011
Directed by Hong-jin Na The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money, but he doesn't hear from her since in 6 months. He plays mah-jong to make some extra cash, but this only makes hif life worse; but then he meets a hit-man who proposes to turn his life around by repaying his debt and reuniting with his wife, just for one hit (Plot).

Once again, the filmmakers and actors (the same as The Chaser 2008) from South Korea have hit a huge great film again, nothing bad here, just in one word when the film end you will say wow !, one of the best thrillers i saw in my life, the film combines many things such as crimes, suspense, betrayal, bloody fight, hunts, struggle, patience, pain, sacrifice,car chases and more! I love everything in this film, first the story of the film and how the director tells in three major characters in 4 chapters, secondly linking all the three characters in many scenes and goals (Money!), thirdly the great performance of the three characters especially the(Jung-woo Ha and Yun-seok Kim) and finally directing and Screenplay was remarkable !.

Director Na in his 156-minute film divided into four chapters ( Taxi driver, Killer, Joseon Clan and Yellow Sea) practically wrote about the history of the building of primal instincts, how they get awakened by chance, how they crash with other instincts and the ending to it all.

Had he given more commercial consideration he could have made the running time more compact. The latter half of the film drags on a bit due to the repeated pattern of killings and chase. Therefore dividing the film in chapters to show three people's perspectives from beginning to end is 100 percent director Na's own doing.

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Another bleak offering from Na Hong-Jin
mute993 July 2011
featuring the same trio of director and leading men from the outstanding "The Chaser" Na Hong-Jin gives us a bleak slice of Korean life. All of the characters are unappealing and unsympathetic, but especially the violent loser Gu-Nam, who is sent on a murderous mission to Seoul by people trafficking gangster Myun-Ga. But despite Gu-Nams hopelessness you still root for him to survive and win despite the odds stacked against him. Na has crafted a flawed masterpiece from these broken elements, with plenty of his trademarks from The Chaser, like the outstanding cinematography (apart from some of the later chase scenes which seem to have been shot on a horrible video camera) and unrelenting violence. I would recommend it very highly.
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It is good but could be better
Ramuna5 November 2012
First I have to admit that nowadays the more I watched Korean movies, the more I appreciate their good work with a stretch range of variance themes. For right now I am in a state that I will pick a recommended Korean movie over the mega budget Hollywood flick any day of the week. Since my first introductory of Korean movie more or less a decade ago with the like of 'My Sassy Girl', 'Sorum', 'Memories of Murder', 'Oldboy', etc, things only get better.

And with 'The Yellow Sea' I can't help but to once again utter my sincere compliment. The movie basically divided into four segments each related to the situation of our protagonist. The protagonist himself is a grey character between evil and good, which didn't come as surprise, as many Korean movies has done a lot deal with such a character, take 'Oldboy' or 'I am a Father'.

The first segment is meant to tell us about the dark and depressing background of the protagonist and the motive following his grim decision for the audience to tolerate. The second segment is what followed after and I assured you it will thrill and hold you at the edge of your chair. Very pacey and full of suspense that the second segment itself could stand as a suspenseful modern noir, of which Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder will nod in full agreement.

But I think what followed after the second segment is where the movie slipped over. Director Na Hong Jin (from 'The Chaser') tried everything to provide a decent thriller, but maybe he just tried too hard. The way he prolonged the movie and transformed it into multi characters rather than kept focusing on the main character, the die hard character in bloody melee combat, the car flipping and car chasing scenes which was superb and not inferior to that Hollywood's made, those were all but just not add up to the movie's substantial but rather blurred the entire purpose of the movie.

If the movie is intended as a powerful thriller drama then it surely slipped in the latter half of the movie. A decent thriller drama can not be stuffed with too much action flick I guess. Nevertheless I still like the movie very much and would like to recommend it to all Asian(or Korean) movie enthusiast. Only that I really wish the director made the movie only three quarters as long, stayed focus on the protagonist's gloomy campaign and ended it up the way it was. It would be a dark and a too powerful movie instead.
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Overlong and a little bit too tidy at the end but still an enjoyable and violent thriller (SPOILERS)
bob the moo24 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Unable to break free of the visa debts that his wife left him with when she went to South Korea to earn money, a taxi driver takes an offer from local criminal Myun to be smuggled into South Korea in order to kill someone for him. The money is the main motivator but he also hopes he can find his wife somehow. Trying to accomplish these hurts both of his goals and, as he is soon to discover, the story is much larger than just a simple killing.

I had heard good things about this film and, if I'm honest, it took me a while to get around to watching it mainly because the running time put me off. In a way I was right and wrong because when I finally did watch it the running time is excessive but yet it does mostly still deliver as a thriller. The plot sees a simple murder escalate as others involve in its planning or execution all start to represent a danger to our main character, who is trying to get home even though he'll be no safer there. It takes a little while to get moving but the film soon delivers some violent scenes as well as some exciting chases and escapes. The build of the plot helps these be engaging and exciting while in fairness they are also pretty well filmed as well. The more frantic action has the feel of the Bourne movies (although not as effective) and those that know the locations may get extra value from Busan harbor and some of Seoul showing up.

The plot isn't perfect though and it does contribute towards most of the film's weaknesses. The first of these is the subplot involving the missing wife; it acts as an engagement tool with the main character that we didn't really need but otherwise it just seems to add distraction away from the main narrative. I was fine with it being mentioned but in the end I didn't understand why it was given so much time. Speaking of time, this is an issue because the film runs far longer than it really needs to and even though I enjoyed it, I still found myself thinking of all the really obvious places where the film could have been edited down to a still-generous two hours. As it is, the length means the pace cannot be kept up and that the simple story is spread out too much. This shows in how excessive but yet how very tidy everything gets. I liked the way that the various characters all fell into place around the lead's story, but I liked it best when it was chaotic, not when it is all pulled together to be all tidy and resolved at the end. That said I did enjoy the nihilistic tone it had and that, in the end, the route of the original murder was something so simple and personal that it wasn't even worth one man's death, far less all those shown here.

The main actor is convincing and kept me interested in his escape; his performance keeps him as a human and tragic figure even though he is able to evade the odds a bit too easily and a bit too frequently. Myun is a great character full of menace and violence and the actor has fun in that role, but the excessive action does at time get too much to buy into since he has a stamina that a Terminator would baulk at. The rest of the cast fill in well enough, but mostly it is the action and plot that keeps the film moving, not the performances. Na's direction is good although I know some dislike cameras that move all the time.

Overall Hwanghae is a solid and enjoyable thriller which would be better were it not for its own excesses. The running time is excessive, the spiralling plot and stamina of the main characters are excessive and the whole film really needed a tighter edit to make the most of its strengths. Still solidly good but could have been more.
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Too long
dbborroughs17 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Yellow Sea tells the story of a Korean cab driver who lives in a frontier city over the Chinese border. Its more akin to the wild west than anything. His wife has runaway to Seoul while he gambles away all his money. Our hero is given the opportunity to clear his debt and see her by performing a hit in Seoul. Taking the job he finds himself smuggled into the city. He splits his time by doing recon on his target and by looking for his wife who has gone missing. When things go horribly wrong he's on the run from everyone, Chinese gangsters Korean gangsters and the police, and it's a bloody (very bloody) fight for survival.

I won't go into the trials I endured to see the film, but all I can say was the film wasn't worth the effort and it disappointed me. While I don't think the film is bad, I just can't understand why it's 2 hours and 35 minutes long when vast portions of the film seem to be the same thing over and over again. If I never seen another fight with knives and hatchets it will be too soon. While I applaud the realistic amounts of blood used many of the fights seem to be variations on a theme and repeated over and over again.

Forgive me, but this whole film seems like something that has been done before any number of times since the earliest days of Film Noir, particularly the ones that crashed into the Red Menace.

Worse I found the films action sequences, the chases and fight sequences far from exciting or even gripping. The difference in the action sequences between this film and the directors Chaser are night and day with the sequences in the earlier film grabbing you by the throat and holding you hostage. Here its kind of like Oh look a chase scene or a knife fight…how much more of this is there? I don't see what some people are seeing in the film. I know the film has been picked up for a big release in the US, and while I think it's a good film, I just can't see why, with all the other better films coming out of Korea, this one got picked up? I would love to think that you could chop this film down so that it loses an hour, but the nonsense is so tangled up with the good parts that it's impossible. I suppose that the best we can hope for is a remake that steps everything up
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The Yellow Sea
Drago_Head_Tilt28 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A down-on-his-luck debt-ridden taxi driver (Ha Jeong-woo) in Yabian (a forgotten no man's land bordered by North Korea, China and Russia) is made an offer by gangster Kim Yoon-seok to clear his debts by travelling to South Korea (in the most horrible, degrading way that illegal immigrants suffer the world over on a daily basis) and killing someone (bringing back the thumb as evidence). While there, Ha also hopes to find out what happened to his (treacherous?) wife who left to work but disappeared. Need i mention that things go wrong, and a monumental *beep*-storm escalates? Viewers worried that Director Na had peaked with his amazing debut CHASER (starring the same two leads) can rest assured that this paints violent tragedy on a bigger canvas, and includes some breathtaking action and thrills. Not for the squeamish. And don't forget that wicked streak of blacker-than-black comedy. Highly recommended. With Jo Seong-ha. I saw the 156 min. theatrical cut, but a shorter (140) Director's Cut is available.
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The camera work ruins this great movie
Zyankali3 November 2012
I have nothing against unsteady camera work if this is used for chasing scenes or is taken as a crucial stylistic element (e. g. Black Witch Project). But what the heck ... over the whole movie you feel like sitting in a boat that pitches and yaws up and down on the sea. The camera work mirrors any gestures or motions even in no-action plots. Otherwise, this movie shows great acting and is surely an interesting thriller. I love the Korean no gun fights. Sometimes you have problems to recognize and relate the Korean actors (they looks very similar to me). Thus, the movie encounters difficulties to follow the plot easily. Nevertheless, i strongly recommend this movie - even if you have to watch it twice.
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What more could I ask for? It's flawless!
musashinwari195 November 2018
Thrilling, thought provoking, well acted, well directed overall a rare treat of a film a horror/thriller with the dramatic and psychological gravitas to stand among the greatest films ever made The film takes big risks and manages to succeed on almost every front a brilliant thriller film with simply superb performances
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Well-made but too gritty to really enjoy
lewism20023 October 2011
The latest Korean thriller to make the international leap is quite an event. Weighing in at a respectable 140 minutes (still 17 minutes shorter than the Korean version) it is filled to the brim with as much grit as anyone could wish for. I knew from the opening voice-over that I wasn't in for a barrel of laughs. The cold monotone relating the tale of a childhood pet dog that died of rabies set the tone for the uncompromisingly grim two-and-a-bit hours to follow. The story follows Gu-Nam, a taxi-driver struggling to make ends meet in a province between Korea and China. His wife has moved away to earn money but hasn't made contact.. In an impossible hole of debt, he is offered a way out. He has to go to Korea and kill someone there. The gangster (the ruthless and unflappable Myun) offering this once-in-a- lifetime chance will, of course, kill his family if he fails. Not, you might think, a terribly original plot idea but there are a number of qualities which make it rather special. First, the setting; South Korea's major cities provide a wonderfully bleak backdrop to the action and much of this is rather beautifully showcased by director Hong-Jin Na. But more than this, the film gives an insight into aspects of Korean culture never normally seen by the Western world, particularly the discrimination against the region Gu-Nam is from (the name of which I will not attempt to type). However, the film's defining feature must be its sheer, visceral grit. Everything, including our desperate protagonist feels painful and dirty. The bloody fight scenes are utterly devoid of glamour and deliberately so. Sadly however, this also robbed them, for me at least, of much of the charm I normally find in well-choreographed fight scenes. This is a trend continued throughout the film. The story, though fairly linear, is complicated by a plethora of characters and the audience is given little to nothing in the way of tantalising hints to lead us through. Essentially, Na has gone out of his way to produce as brutal and harsh a film as he could and, in the process, sacrificed a great deal of potential enjoyment.
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one of the best films into korean action thrillers
jacenknet23 February 2020
Prob hands down one of the best movies i've ever seen. The writer/director blows away any sense of the "norm" along with even with multiple viewing continues to keep you wondering whats going to happen next. The combo of Jung-woo Ha and Yun-seok Kim in reversed roles from the Chaser is amazing as always. Another win for Korean filmmakers
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Great action sequences, but mixed feelings over the plot.
paulclaassen8 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The film is divided into four parts. 1) Taxi Driver. This part sets up the protagonist's background. Gu-Nam is a Taxi driver, battling financially. He borrowed money to pay for a visa for his wife to go from China to Korea to look for work, but he hasn't heard from her again. Now fearing she is having an affair, he hates her. When an opportunity arise for him to go to Korea and earn money in the process (by killing a businessman), he grabs it.

2) Murder. Gu-Nam's preparation for the murder is very interesting, as he plans everything in meticulous detail, and his thoughts are also very well portrayed on screen. However, things go terribly wrong for our hero.

3) Josean Clan (North Korean Person). This part explains the Mafia set-up as well as the Korean mob, both of which are after Gu-Nam. It shows us how ruthless and determined the antagonist is, excellently portrayed by Kim Yoon-seok. The film's pace slowed down significantly during this part and I got a bit confused with way too many characters.

4) Yellow Sea. Time is running out for Gu-Nam. The film gets extremely violent towards the end to the point where it becomes gory, and I found the killings just too many. The action sequences were incredible, though. I was not very happy with the ending, so this was a once-only viewing for me. (I do, however, appreciate the unpredictability of Korean movies).
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The Yellow Sea Review: A masterpiece which every cinema enthusiast SHOULD watch!
Prashast_Singh9 August 2017
Movie: The Yellow Sea (18)

Rating: 4.5/5

Director Na Hong-jin, known for his mindblowing action thriller THE CHASER, returns with THE YELLOW SEA, another action thriller but with a lot of difference as well as excellence. Starring Ha Jung-woo and Kim Yoon-seok, it's a film every cinema enthusiast should watch. It's a masterpiece by all means and a film which isn't just a film but something more than that.

THE YELLOW SEA is a film which presents human emotions in a very realistic manner. Ha Jung-woo is so excellent as Gu-nam that you'll definitely root for him. Kim Yoon-seok is very impressive as usual, and leaves and impact like the former. Rest of the cast is impressive as well.

The character development is what needs to be praised. It's so good that you feel like you know the characters fully, and eventually you manage to develop a psychological relation with them, especially Gu-nam played by Ha Jung-woo.

The film's biggest strength is the screenplay itself, as it contains all other brilliant elements a film of this genre needs. The cinematography is excellent and captures the journey of the characters very well. The action sequences are: extremely mindblowing and spellbinding! And due to this, they deserve a repeated watch. The editing is excellent, and I recommend you to watch the director's cut as it has a lot of depth. Can't say about the other version because I haven't seen that, but the director's cut being an amazing one is, I feel, better to watch.

The emotions are very well brought out on screen. The film is exactly what you can expect from a South Korean filmmaker. It's emotional, thrilling, violent, action packed and what not. It has everything to keep you hooked to the edge of the seat. There's not even a single dull moment and the film is very enjoyable despite of being quite dark as well.

THE YELLOW SEA is a perfect action thriller which shows what South Korean filmmakers are capable of. Definitely, with films of this kind, they will earn more respect in the eyes of viewers. Highly recommended!
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fchase-7247414 May 2017
I guess I'm a minority of one but I don't get the praise. Overkill + Repetition + Incoherence = What, exactly? A good movie buried somewhere. The filmmakers seemed to take the approach that if they have one gang of gangsters running around incoherently then 3 (I think) gangs of gangsters running around incoherently is 3 times better. If we have one interminable car chase in the city then 20 interminable car chases in the city is 20 times better. If we have one bloody poorly lit incoherent knife-and-ax fight, then 20 bloody poorly lit incoherent knife-and-ax fights is 20 times better. (By the way, don't they have guns in Asia?) I will say, however, the ending is cool.
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Don't make a mistake
wjosephjorob2 November 2018
A masterful gangster drama, a knuckle headed cab driver bungles a hit job and his life spirals out of control, grim and unrelenting thriller all the way to the somber conclusion,the criminal element in this film is quite horrific and just pure savages and the scenes of violence is rough, but you root for the cabbie to survive, what a thrill ride, find this gem and discover it for yourself.
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Close to excellency!
markovd1116 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
From the actors to the story, "The Yellow Sea" is a good movie. It keeps you interested and invested in it's characters and story from the beginning to the end. Sadly, while the movie tries it's best to be realistic, it gives itself too much freedom in action scenes in which characters often get take so much damage, but they don't die. Instead, they just keep going. There is one scene where a bad guy, wounded and bleeding, kills a whole room of guys. And a few minutes later, he is fighting again. It's too much. That wouldn't be the problem if the movie has taken a more poetic purpose, like "A Bittersweet Life". Instead, at one side it's trying to be as realistic as possible, while on the other side it's unrealistic to the maximum. Only because of that, I give it 8.5/10 and not 10/10. I still think it's a good movie and deserves a watch if you liked "The Chaser" for example. Do keep in mind it's more action packed than "The Chaser". So, as conclusion, a warm recommendation from me, whether you are looking for a crime movie, drama or action.
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Great Film Devoid of Overdone, Over-sentimental Crying Scenes
redrobin62-321-20731118 October 2018
I live Korean movies as much as the next guy, and in my case, the bloodier the better. This movie delivered in spades what I expected - enormous tension, graphic fight scenes, good acting, and superb cinematography. It did lose me at times because of the complex story as well as multitude of characters, but at least it didn't fall for to that singular, annoying Korean trope - crying scenes where a tough character suddenly starts crying real hard while sappy string music drips in the background.

Because of films like this I'll definitely be on the lookout for more. I've already seen 'I Saw The Devil,' 'The Man From Nowhere,' 'Oldboy,' 'The Chaser,' and a few others. The Koreans are on the top of their game when it comes to crime thrillers.
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The S. Koreans Make Another Great Gangster Movie
Scott-Bredemann18 April 2015
If it's one thing the S. Koreans know how to do it is make a Triad/Yakuza/Mafia movie. They once again topped themselves with this action packed flick.

It starts out slightly slow following the life of a lowly taxi driver just trying to make ends meet and provide for his child (who lives with his mom), all the while trying to pay off a debt that is owed to some low level scum that got his wife a passport to move to China, so she can make money for them. Not surprising to some of the other characters, the taxi drivers wife has appeared to have disappeared with newly bought freedom.

Owing so much money, he takes to gambling, only to lose again and again. It seems his luck has run out when a higher level Mafiso sends for him and makes him an offer that will change his life forever.

This is a can't miss for fans of this genre and very enjoyable for those new to it.
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Uneven pacing and ultimately quite hit-and-miss
grantss18 May 2016
Uneven pacing and ultimately quite hit-and-miss.

Gu-nam (played by Jung-woo Ha) is a taxi driver in Yanji City, in China, near North Korea. Through a gambling habit, he has run up a large amount of debt. Wis wife has gone to South Korea to find a job and he hasn't seen her in six months. A local gangster then offers him a large sum of money to kill someone in South Korea. He accepts and heads to South Korea, but things don't go according to plan.

So-so. The second quarter was interesting, the rest was meh. Starts slowly, then suddenly ratchets up the action, then basically becomes one long chase and ultimately fizzles out. A tighter plot, especially in the latter half, would have made it far more compelling.

Decent performances all round though.
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