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Film Review: ‘Believer’

Film Review: ‘Believer’

Johnnie To’s gritty mainland crime epic “Drug War” (2012) is given a slick and mostly effective South Korean re-tooling in “Believer.” Centered on a dogged cop obsessed with flushing out a mysterious drug kingpin, this pacy outing is loaded with colorful characters but fails to deliver the emotional intensity it promises. The first feature by director and co-writer Lee Hae-young since his classy period thriller “The Silenced” (2015), “Believer” has notched two million admissions since its May 22 local release. An entertaining action-thriller accessible for non-Korean viewers, “Believer” ought to perform well when it opens June 8 on 23 North American screens.

Action-packed but free of the extreme brutality that sometimes hinders the commercial prospects of Korean genre films in offshore markets, “Believer” borrows just the basics of To’s film. While faithfully recreating some of the original’s most famous sequences, Lee and female co-writer Chung Seo-kyung have significantly altered plot and character details elsewhere.

See full article on Variety