Korean actress Gianna Jun goes past her days as a sassy girl and a vampire hunter to really showcase her acting skills in this period action film.
In 1933, the Japanese has occupied Korea and in the area of Manchuria, resistance armies are being formed in hopes to one day bring their homeland out of Japanese rule. Orders have been given to assassinate two people, Mamoru Kawaguchi, the Japanese garrison of Gyeongseong; and traitor Kang In-Geuk. Yem Seok-Jin, the officer in charge of the covert mission, has been assigned to bust three people out of prison who are the only ones capable to complete the mission.
The trio consists of sniper Ahn Ok-Yun, who is imprisoned for shooting her superior; “Big Gun” Chu Sang-Ok, a marksman who sold stolen arms; and explosives expert Hwang Deok-Sam, whose sale of faulty explosives landed him in prison. As the trio is out and begins to plan for their mission, they soon learn something is off when on the day of the mission, they find two mysterious assassins, Old Man and Hawaii Pistol, who have been hired to kill the trio. Things get more complicated when a very dark secret is revealed that could change the entire course of the mission.
Choi Dong-Hoon co-wrote, co-produced, and directed this period action drama that succeeds in two things. One is to bring a sense of history in terms of Korea prior to World War II by setting a majority of the film in 1933 while the film opens in 1911 and ends in 1949 as a prologue and epilogue. Many see actress Gianna Jun and know her for her roles in My Sassy Girl and Blood: The Last Vampire. While she did show some acting muscle in Il Mare, which was remade as The Lake House with Sandra Bullock in the Jun role; Jun perhaps belts out one of her best performances as she clearly has matured from being more eye candy and really plays it tough with her role here. Once that gun is in Jun’s hands, she plays the sniper role to a tee with her stern look of action.
Lee Jung-Jae does well as the officer in charge of hiring the trio of assassins while Cho Jin-Woo and Choi Deok-Moon bring some fun with their roles of Jun’s cohorts. Ha Jung-Woo’s assassin Hawaii Pistol is the calm, collected anti-hero to Jun’s tough as nails army sniper and the two really bring quite the chemistry together. In other words, Hawaii Pistol tends to bring a vibe that may be somwwhat reminiscent of Chow Yun-Fat’s calm cool hitman Jeff in John Woo’s The Killer. As for the character of Old Man, Oh Dal-Su, like Cho and Choi, brings a bit of comic relief as the sometimes comic foil yet necessary partner to Ha’s calm collected assassin.
The action scenes add quite a nice touch of flavor, especially in the two pivotal scenes where the assassinations are to take place. The shootouts are somewhat reminiscent of something that could be layed out in a John Woo balletic “bullet ballet” or “heroic bloodshed”, especially the second major action scene, taking place at a wedding between the daughter of traitor Kang and the son of the Japanese garrison. This is the pivotal scene where everything comes together and is brought out quite handedly with guns blazing and explosions galore.
In conclusion, Korean cinema fans may get a kick out of Assassination. Not only will they have a chance to enjoy some nice period action gunfights, but see lead actress Gianna Jun really branch out as a very serious actress.
WFG RATING: A-
Showbox Entertainment presents a Caper Film production. Director: Choi Dong-Hoon. Producers: Ahn Soo-Hyun and Choi Dong-Hoon. Writers: Choi Dong-Hoon and Lee Ki-Cheol. Cinematography: Kim Woo-Hyung. Editing: Shin Min-Kyung.
Cast: Gianna Jun, Lee Jung-Jae, Ha Jung-Woo, Oh Dal-Su, Cho Jin-Woong, Lee Geung-Young, Shim Cheol-Jong, Park Byung-Eun, Choi Deok-Moon, Kim Eui-Sung, Jin Kyung, Heo Ji-Won, Kim Hong-Pa.