Korean actor Song Kang-Ho once again shows why he is one of the biggest names in South Korea with this film that starts out as a somewhat comedy-drama but takes a more serious turn in the second half, and this is all based on true events.
1978. Song Woo-Seok was once a prominent judge in Daljeon, only to resign because of the fact he never went to college, or law school. Armed with a high school education, he sets up a private practice in Pusan, where he starts out as a real estate lawyer, doing notaries. When other lawyers follow suit and do notaries as well, he switches to taxes. When he becomes successful, he repays an old debt to restaurateur Soon-Ae, who runs the shop with her college student son Jin-Woo.
Song’s life soon changes when he is given a chance to really make a name for himself. When Jin-Woo is accused of Communism, he is put under an interrogation that involves brutal torture. After careful thinking and looking at evidence, Song decides to take the case and over the course of the trial, he soon finds himself and what he is meant to do in his life. Will he be able to free Jin-Woo under what he feels could be a corrupted system?
From first time director Yang Woo-Seok comes this riveting film that definitely could prove to be Song Kang-Ho’s most defining role in his prolific career. The first starts out somewhat like a comedy where we see Song practically negotiate his way into becoming a real estate registration lawyer to even negotiating his way to buying an apartment from an elderly woman. He even negotiates a deal with Oh Dae-Su’s character of Park, who started out working for a friend of Song’s.
The film spans from 1978 to 1987 and despite the comic relief of the film, it is the second half of the film that shows the true nature of the film and the destiny of Song’s character. As a matter of fact, the character of Song Woo-Seok is named from both the lead actor and the director. The film is actually based on the events in the life of South Korea’s ninth president, Roh Moo-Hyun (1946-2009). Before becoming the President, Moo-Hyun actually defended a group of college students accused of Communism under false pretenses, a violation of human rights.
One can only despise Kwak Do-Won’s very corrupted National Security detective Cha who will make sure his mission is done no matter who has to pay for it. Some of the torture depicted is quite brutal and realistic that one can’t help but feel sympathy for the victims and total hatred towards the detective. One can’t help but feel disdain towards a corrupt justice system, who want the trial done quickly that they already negotiation sentences before the trial begins, only for Song to interject.
The Attorney is definitely one of Song Kang-Ho’s best films and a great film that combines a bit of comic relief, political drama, and a sense of Korean history. If you love Korean cinema, then you must put this title in your collection but if you’re in the mood for a good courthouse style film, definitely rent this.
WFG RATING: A+
A Next Entertainment World production in association with Withus Film Co. Ltd. Director: Yang Woo-Seok. Producer: Choi Jae-Won. Writers: Yang Woo-Seok and Yoon Hyun-Ho. Cinematography: Lee Tae-Yoon. Editing: Kim Sang-Beom and Kim Jae-Beom.
Cast: Song Kang-Ho, Kim Young-Ae, Oh Dal-Su, Kwak Do-Won, Lim Si-Wan, Song Chang-Young.