This Korean film from first time director Kim Hong-Sun is a definitive thriller that has an unexpected and shocking third act that truly the highlight of the film.
Three years ago, a bloodied man escaped from a dark room inside a ferry. Cut up, he is confronted by a black market organ dealer. However, the victim successfully defended his attacker yet they both go overboard, leaping to their deaths. Witnessing the incident is another organ dealer, Young-Gyu. Haunted by the events, he has decided to give up the life of an organ dealer and start his life over.
Present day. Young-Gyu has changed. Instead of dealing organs, he fronts stolen goods. He has a crush on Yu-Ri, a young worker at the local ferry station. He learns her father is ill and is in need of a transplant and has been denied the surgery due to a mismatch in tissue. She desperately contacts the black market. In an effort to only help the girl he longs for, Young-Gyu decides to get back in the game one last time by reforming his old team. On a ferry headed to China, Young-Gyu finds his target, a young paralyzed woman named Chae-Hee. While he and his team kidnap and her and begin to do their “business”, Chae-Hee’s husband, insurance broker Sang-Ho, begins a desperate search for her.
First time director Kim Hong-Sun (who also co-wrote the script with Kim Sang-Myung) delves into the world of the organ black market for his film debut. After the flashback that opens the film, it starts out a bit confusing as if one is expected to see a film that interweaves a bunch of stories that ultimately connects by film’s end. Instead, it is more of an introduction of the central characters of the film and while this device usually would work well in films like Traffic (2000) and Crash (2004), using it in this film, just brings a little bit of confusion.
However, it is the second act where the film really begins to strengthen as most of the second act takes place on a ferry headed to China. The film is set within six hours with most of the craziness happens aboard the ferry. This is where Young-Gyu and his team, consisting of a promiscuous old man, a loose cannon, and a mentally unstable man, find their victim in the paralyzed Chae-Hee. They take her to a back room where they perform the potentially deadly operation. The film does get a bit graphic here in terms of gore, so this is definitely not for the squeamish. It is as if the film delves from drama to horror, but done smoothly while we have Chae-Hee’s insurance broker husband desperately searching for her with the help of the very girl who needs the transplant from her father. Once in China, the job seems to be done and Chae-Hee has still disappeared.
However, it is the third act that really brings a sense of shock value in the fray and really becomes the driving force of the film. Now, Kim has taken the film and turned it from drama, then to horror, then to action. When in China, Young-Gyu learns that there are serious consequences upon returning to his past and this sets up a series of twists and action sequences (some brief fights and car chases) that all culminates into a very shocking climax that may make your mouth drop.
Traffickers is a meshing of three genres of film and despite a confusing opening act full of drama, its horror-style second act and action-thriller third act may just make one curious about this film, especially when the twists come ahead full speed in the third act. Definitely recommended.
AlbertV’s Rating: B+
A Timestory production in association with Che Um and Zio Entertainment. Director: Kim Hong-Sun. Producers: Choi Yeon-Ju, Choi Hyun-Mook, and Kim Sung-Geun. Writers: Kim Hong-Sun and Kim Sang-Myung. Cinematography: Yun Nam-Ju. Editing: Shin Min-Kyung.
Cast: Im Chang-Jung, Daniel Choi, Oh Dal-Su, Jo Yung-Hee, Jo Dal-Hwan, Jeong Ji-Yoon.