The Film: No Mercy (Yongseoneun Eupda) (2010)
The Principles: Hyeong-Joon Kim (Writer/Director). Hye-Jin Han, Nam Kyung-Eub, Sang-Wook Park
The Premise: Another intense and graphic revenge/thriller from South Korea. A girl is found dismembered in a marsh and the ensuing investigation is assisted by a forensics professor and a wet behind the ears former student.
Is It Good: Yes. I received a copy of the film from a friend who told me this was the next Oldboy. While very well executed and following much of the intensity the 2003 masterpiece had, this film does fall short of the visual mastery that Chan-Wook Park is so good at. While not as good as Oldboy, it is still an excellent watch and accomplishes the gritty revenge feeling South Korean films do consistently better than anyone else.
I found the lead character began very similar to the Alex Cross character from James Patterson (played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider). He is a single parent, highly regarded as the best in his field and willing to put himself in places he doesn’t belong. He carries the respect of the police and is the only reason the young rookie female even gets a chance. When we get to the point of seeing the antagonist, he is so smug about what he did and his plans that he forces you to hate him. The characters leave you feeling dirty, even though the movie is so refreshing compared to the never ending domestic disappointments that we call thrillers.
Much like Oldboy, the plot and the reasons are revealed a little at a time. It was a very impressive display of skill for a new director to possess the patience to let things grow and the talent involved in writing a semi-complex screenplay to build the characters.
Is It Worth A Look: Yes. I had a great time with this movie. It kept me engaged the entire time, rooting for an ending that you somehow know you are not going to get. The director may have played things safe and sane when as opposed to the outlandish stylings sometimes found in this genre, but it works as a middle ground between the domestic US blah and the visually striking Chan-Wook Park or Jee-Woon Kim.
Random Anecdotes: Sol Kyung-gu is to South Korean Box Office what Johnny Depp is domestically. Whatever he puts his name on does extremely well there. He is also accused of being type cast and it is easy to see why, his professor characters had the same primary issue in two films released in the same summer. I may look for Troublemaker as a followup Movie of the day.
The skilled director just released his second film called Troublemaker. It also deals with an unsuspecting private detective getting caught up as a murder suspect. He wrote and directed it.
Cinematic Soulmates: Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, Memories of Murder, Kiss the Girls, I Saw the Devil