20 October 2002 | pat00139
I didn't really know what this movie was about when I started it. I wasn't disappointed. The movie takes place in an alternate timeline where Japan owns Seoul and the rest of Korea. Korean terrorists wreak havoc in a fancy building for some as-yet unclear reason, and it's the job of two cops (one Japanese, the other Korean) to find out what's going on. What follows is one hell of a ride. Make sure you're resting while watching this movie, because you wouldn't want to get hurt.
The first action sequence at the beginning of the movie sets the tone for the rest of the flick. The shoot-out has this incredible intensity and never lets up. The rest of the movie follows suit. You don't really know what's going on at first, but you know it's going to be explained, and that it's going to be worth it. The shoot-outs that follow only top one another, which, after seeing the first 15 minutes, is quite hard to believe. They're so incredible. They might not have the scale as 'Heat' or the budget of 'The Rock' but they sure as hell are as intense (if not more), and as good, if not better, than whatever comes out of Hollywood.
As with 'Shiri', the action in this movie rests on one great story. Throughout the movie, the characters become more and more like real people. No one is a hero, no one is Superman here. The characters are thrust into improbably situations, but they always stay rather believable. When they're not shooting guns, the drama part of the story takes over, and you're actually as impressed with what happens. You feel for the characters, and you're actually kind of glad you don't have to make the decisions they have to make. I could kind of see where some of the relationships were going, and I didn't really want them to go there, but I suppose they had to. The story, on the other hand, is a complete mystery. I never knew where it was going.
This movie actually says something, as well. Just like in 'Shiri', it's not action for the sake of action - it's action for the sake of actually saying something. It's slightly on the nationalistic side, but that doesn't really bother me, the message that the movie portrays is definitely worth the moments spent nationalism. It's really not as bad as some other movies I've seen. The movie is insanely political, I was actually very surprised. No Hollywood studio would have the guts to do something like this. I suppose the implications of the movie are universal, but they chose to have Japan control Korea. It's quite refreshing to see a movie, an action movie no less, with a thoughtful story.
The cinematography is gorgeous. I've seen all of 3 Korean movies and they all had this incredible visual style. This one is obviously included. Most of the movie is shot with a lot of blues and grays. It creates this nice, calm atmosphere among the instances of carnage. Add to that some great, invigorating music (which also reminded of the music in 'Shiri', but that's probably due to the fact that the same composer scored both movies), and the entire mood is perfectly set.
An amazing movie with brains and brawn, everybody should enjoy this movie.