2013, Green Fish Pictures/Musa Productions/Showbox-Mediaplex
Gong Yoo (Ji Dong-Chul)
Yoo Da-In (Choi Kyung-Hee)
Kim Sung-Kyun (Lee Gwang-Jo)
Jo Sung-Ha (Kim Seok-Ho)
Jo Kae-Yun (Cho)
Park Hee-Soon (Min Se-Hoon)
Song Jae-Ho (Chairman Park Geon-Ho)
Nam Bo-Ra (Mrs. Ji)
Kim Won-Jin (SA1)
This action packed South Korean film brings an action style similar to The Bourne Identity with the story not only flowing, but coming at you like a Mack truck.
Ji Dong-Chul was one of the best North Korean field agents, having been one of less than three percent to pass the extremely harsh military training at Ryonggang base. That is, until he finds himself betrayed by his superiors on a mission, which resulted in the disappearance and ultimately, deaths of both his wife and his young daughter. Ji defects to South Korea, where he finds himself the hired driver for business executive Chairman Park Geon-Ho.
Park gives Ji the location of Lee Gwang-Jo, a fellow defector and ex-North Korean agent who was responsible for the death of Ji’s family. However, before Ji can get to Lee, Park is assassinated by a mysterious assailant. When Ji arrives, he takes out the assailant and finds himself in possession of a pair of glasses that may have vital data. Ji soon finds himself framed for Park’s murder by National Security Intelligence director Kim Seok-Ho. To make things complicated, Kim hires Min Se-Hoon, a South Korean drill sergeant who has past ties to Ji, to find the defector. The only one Ji can rely on is Choi Kyung-Hee, a documentary producer whose latest project is on the lives of North Korean defectors, to help him clear his name.
Directed by Won Shin-Yun, this is an exciting thrill a minute action ride reminiscent of other recent Korean action thrillers such as The Berlin File and the theme of North Korean defector films such as Shiri (1999) and Secret Reunion (2010). The screenplay, by Im Sang-Yoon, flows smoothly with plot twists and flashbacks that will keep the viewer glued to the screen. It may seem much with themes of defection, revenge, and conspiracies mixed into one, but in this case, it is wrapped up in a nice little 137-minute package.
Gong Yoo does a pretty good job as our lead Ji Dong-Chul. After working as a North Korean field agent, he finds himself relegated to becoming a hired driver in South Korea, but only has one thing on his mind: avenging the deaths of his wife and daughter from a fellow defector. However, once he finds himself framed for the murder of his boss, the game really begins. He finds himself followed by everyone, including the National Security Intelligence and a former South Korean drill sergeant who he had once confronted, all while attempting to clear his name. While he does catch up with the man who murdered his family, his priority soon changes to having to prove his innocence.
Oh Se-Young was in charge of the film’s exciting action sequences. Seeing Ji take on many thugs, it is clear that combined with the cinematography of Lee Sung-Jae and editor Shin Min-Kyung, Oh has definitely channeled the likes of Jeff Imada and Nick Powell. However, while the action has that shaky cam effect that may annoy fans, one has to stay glued to the screen to see the close quarter combat techniques. Martial arts film fans who loved the 1991 Hong Kong film Operation Scorpio will be excited to see Korean kicking powerhouse Kim Won-Jin back in front of the screens as “SA1”, a NSI assassin who takes on Ji a nicely choreographed fight scene in a subway station. Yes, Won still has got the kicking prowess for those who are wondering, even pulling off his double-legged spin kick. Even the car chases that start up the third act are quite a thrill-a-minute ride that is enjoyable to watch. It is as if one is watching Bruce Law handling the car chases here.
The Suspect is an exciting action film that just flows with the screenplay, has a pretty good lead in Gong Yoo, and has some pretty nifty action scenes that despite its shaky cam, does show what is happening and seeing Won Jin return is exciting as is. This is highly recommended, especially for those who love those good ol’ political thrillers.
WFG RATING: A