, 22 Feb 2006
Korean Cinema for the past few years have produced some of my favourite ever films and this is a prime example of why.
Ji-woon Kim, director of the great horror mystery 'A Tale of Two Sisters', takes a story that has been told a dozen times before - an anti-hero criminal wronged by his associates and out for revenge, and yet it feels completely new and fresh.
Without giving too much away Byung hun lee plays a henchman for a local crime boss who is given orders to watch over the much younger girlfriend of his boss, who is suspected of having an affair.
Finding himself liking the girl Sun woo keeps his discoveries to himself - which lands him in trouble with the boss who leaves Sun woo for dead.
While the plot is as simple as that, its also so much more.
With all the drive for revenge of Mel Gibson in Payback or Marvin in Point Blank, Sun Woo goes all out for retribution against the entire crime syndicate that wronged him.
It's not the story here that makes it seem so fresh its the way its executed. Dark humour that breaks up the bleak tone nicely, wonderful music and fantastic camera work and use of colour really set the mood.. it's a great looking film, the slow pace of the first act builds the character well, the 'Snatch'-like plot threads and great action of the final 2/3rds. The ending is absolutley magnificent.
Sun Woo is also effortless in being one of the coolest characters on film. Kicking obscene amounts of butt while still looking sharp in his business suits, unflappable and completley focused. He is completely believable as an every day business man with a talent for violence. In fact it reminded me of the Tom Cruise character in Collateral, in the nightclub hit, in terms of how he gets down to business with ruthless efficiency and calm. The difference between these characters being it's hard not to like Sun woo as he goes about his work with the motto that actions speak louder than words. The mini car chase scene is a great example of how badass this guy is.
If you like revenge movies, if you like a little action with your drama, or drama with your action or your a fan of noir or gangster flicks or even Korean cinema then this is a must see.
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