22 May 2014 | thisjustinsherman
Corporate family is no family at all
An impressive movie. More than just a crime-thriller/action flick, this film takes a hard look at the Korean/Asian work-ethic, underlining the dangerously soulless nature of 'Corporate Family'. That's what The Company featured in this film is, beyond it's cover as metal-traders and its hidden, darker nature. The young field employees all see their Boss as a father-figure, "I love you, boss." the literal mantra of their interactions with him, something they say with such casual ease as to suggest this is, in fact, a relatively common way to greet your boss in South Korea. The lieutenant of the Boss, who doles out and reviews 'assignments', is like the jealous older brother; his position assured by the hierarchy, but his self-worth frequently challenged by the skills of his underlings, for which he punishes them frequently, and for which they desperately apologize. The protagonist is immersed in this family, seeing it as his life entire. He truly does love his boss, and his devotion to The Company borders on the absolute. As he leaves youth behind however, crisis of conscience begin to afflict him. He begins to question the worth of his own assignments, the value of the lives he's taking, and more and more he comes to feel that living should mean something more, and his love and devotion to a Company so callous and cruel has been gravely, woefully misplaced.
It's rare to find this kind of social commentary hovering over an action/thriller film, and I found it to be treat. It gives one a window into a way of living that one otherwise might only hear about, and explores the emotional anxieties surrounding that way of living in a gripping, often very heartfelt way. There's plenty of blood, violence and gun-play to keep the viewer entertained, but the deeper themes running through it provoke real sympathy and hard thought in those receptive to such things. The catharsis of the film, the 'redemption' of the protagonist, comes in the simple form of a conscious decision to smile; to seek happiness over professionalism. It's an odd moment, hard to place in time and setting, but a potent and highly uplifting one.