31 October 2010 | 5h4d0w
Another fantastic thriller/drama brought to us by South Korea
Let me start off by saying that I was skeptical whether I should watch this movie because of all the comparisons here to US productions. Because while I did enjoy most of the ones named, not enough to want to see a basically South Korean copycat at the theater.
If you fear the same thing: Don't worry! This movie is exactly what you would expect from great Korean cinema, comparable to the likes of "The Chaser", "Memories of Murder" and "A Bittersweet Life". In this movie, there is lots of rather believable tragedy, little kitsch (there is the occasional unsuitable one-liner and the girl sometimes says things that in my opinion are too mature for her age and yank a little too much at the emotional chain - these are basically the things that brought my rating down to 9/10) and a fair amount of graphic violence and realism in the fighting scenes. There are also some wacky characters just like they appear somewhat frequently in east Asian productions but I think they fit in quite nicely despite the otherwise very serious tone.
If one were to compare it to a US production, I would go with e.g. "A History of Violence" because of the serious tone and the realism but still, the overall style is drastically different.
The whole experience is nicely rounded off with a very beautiful score and the only thing I considered negative besides what I already mentioned was that the plot is moving very fast. At various points I was not sure whether I didn't pay enough attention or whether details were left out. Meaning for instance how one character got the information about another character. These connections of information between characters are not always clear in my opinion but it does not really hurt the story and I am sure that it would be clear with a second viewing - something that this movie absolutely deserves.