South Korea, 2020
In Korean, Japanese, Thai and English with English subtitles
Written and directed by HONG Won Chan
In cinemas from 10 June 2021
This film will appeal to fans of the Asian gangster movie genre. It is action from start to finish, very violent, but with an overarching moral about caring for children and their welfare.
Shortly after completing his final assignment against a Japanese criminal, In-nam (HWANG Jung Min), a contract killer, discovers that a child kidnapped in Thailand may be his next of kin, and travels there to investigate. He enlists the help of transsexual Yui (PARK Jeong Min), who also serves as his translator.
But Ray (LEE Jung Jae), the psychopathic brother of the man killed by In-nam, is out for revenge. Much violence, shooting and car chasing ensue.
The film deals with several contemporary issues – child trafficking is at the forefront of the film’s plot, along with the general issue of organ theft. The imbalance of wealth and the enormous amount of money generated by the drug and other nefarious trades also present strong themes. Along with this is money as a driver of trades both legal and illegal.
‘Exotic’ locations abound with all their in-your-face contrasts – blaring horns, crowded spaces, the disparity between luxury of golf course-style development projects and the grungy streets of the town. The film is set in Thailand, Korea and Japan and all of these languages are used.
The film’s hero transforms himself from paid killer to white knight over a personal issue. He has all the traits of immortality we expect of the superhero, managing to dodge the constant rain of bullets from semi-automatic weapons, knife attacks, numerous simultaneous opponents and so forth – à la tradition of the ninja genre.
Director HONG Won Chan’s take on the film is: ‘This film depicts people who exist in the world of darkness, and how they redeem themselves from the original sin by sacrificing themselves.’ One can but concur about the world of darkness depicted in the film. The depravity of the evil-doers is patently clear but so too is the impossibility of overcoming this when corruption spreads through the organisations who should be upholding the law.
Thus it is that one cannot be wholeheartedly positive when the ending of the film appears to point to new starts and sunnier prospects for some of the characters. Maybe… And maybe all that money that goes with it might help, or it might simply be frittered away. In any case, the notion of the fractured family remaking itself in the next generation with the least likely members is one to contemplate.
Thank you to nedco for the opportunity to preview the film.