KOREA 2010 Directed by: Woo Min-Ho Written by: Woo Min-Ho Produced by: Jeong Hoon-Tak Editing by: Kim Sun-Min Music by: Lee Jae-Jin Cast: Kim Myeong-Min, Eom Ki-Jun, Kim So-Hyun, Park Joo-Mi, Lee Byeong-Jun, Oh Kwang-Rok, Kim Eung-Su, Min Bok-Gi, Lee Ho-Jae, Lee Jang-Won
A priest’s young daughter is getting kidnapped, and in the wake of her disappearance the man of god turns against his creator and abandons his profession, losing his faith in justice and the hope that everything will be fine in the future. He takes on an ordinary job, but his wife doesn’t give up searching for Hye Lin, until one day she believes she saw her with a man, presumably her kidnapper, and follows them, but tragically gets hit by a car before she can close in on them.
In the hospital she is fighting for her life, lying in a coma, while her husband is devastated but doesn’t know what to do – until he runs into a guy in the parking lot, an incident that sets off a series of mysterious events. Before Joo Young Soo knows, he finds out that his daughter is still alive, but that doesn’t help him much as the whereabouts is unknown. But nothing can stop a loving father, and when a game of life and death begins the outcome is unpredictable.
South Korean filmmakers have perfected the crime thriller to a degree that is good and bad at the same time, but remarkable nevertheless. On a positive note, there is currently no other country constantly releasing equally solid genre movies, flicks that impress through strong scripts, detailed characterization, precise timing, the right dosage of action and violence, high quality direction and cinematography, and a good sense for balancing reason and emotion all along the way. MAN OF VENDETTA is exactly that sort of movie, with a tendency towards calculated exploitation thanks to its religious subtext and the fact that the victim is an underage girl.
On the other hand, once you are familiar with the likes of MAN OF VENDETTA, you can’t help but feel that it all tends to be a bit formulaic, that you have seen many equally good movies recently, that none of them really stands out and that there is very little surprise in the viewing experience. Despite many of these films being really good, they just don’t vow you, and it seems as if the industry is gearing towards a turning point, the moment when the trademark recipe of how to approach the crime film genre turns into the opposite of innovation. What comes out is a sea of sameness, albeit on a considerably high level.
I find it very hard to nominate any of the recent thrillers as truly genuine or remarkable; some may stand out for the wrong reasons, but you wouldn’t want to count that, would you? It’s up to the audience to pick a favorite. MAN OF VENDETTA is on par with most of the above-average peers, missing nothing except a reason to say it’s great.
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