An unsociable pawnshop owner is forced into action when his neighbor and her daughter are kidnapped by the mob.
A Little Taken…
If you look at the marketing material for this film, there tends to be more than a passing association to the Liam Neeson kidnap/revenge thriller Taken. The reality however, and thankfully so, is that this film while showing some glancing similarities to the Neeson movie is quite apart in many ways, but still equally as compelling.
A key to that is in the main protagonists motivations. In Taken, sex slavers kidnap Liam Neeson’s daughter and he must use his considerable skills and resources to find and rescue her. Neeson is motivated by his very intimate connection to his child. He understandably would risk his life to not only apprehend the wrongdoers, but ultimately he would risk everything to return his flesh and blood to safety.
In this film, our “hero” has only a passing connection to the girl in the posters and because of his violent and tragic past, we find him at a point in his life where he would rather not deal with anyone, unless he absolutely has to. It’s the case that he is literally forced into dealing with these thugs simply because he’s had business dealings with his neighbors. It isn’t until close to the halfway point that he exhibits any real self-motivated pressure to save what remains of his neighbors. His newfound drive awakens when he realizes just how much danger his annoying kid neighbor is in. It’s the little girl in the poster who’s performance the film’s narrative hinges on.
In Taken, the emotional center of the film is the father. His very real anguish at potentially losing his daughter and his desperate search for her. Rewatching the film, it’s pretty clear that the daughter is not very likeable. Without Neeson, we’d probably want the slavers to take her post-haste. Neeson brings distracts us as we get from point A to B. In this film, we have to bond with the little girl. Without that, we would also not be able to buy our pawnshop owner risking his life for her and her mother. Thankfully there are just enough key moments with the girl that help ease us into liking the kid. The little actress Sae-ron Kim does a bang up job of playing the emotional scenes. She only has one other film to her credit, A Brand New Life, but she comes across as a relative natural.
At this point we’ve reviewed quite a few Korean action films. Our loyal readers will find that there aren’t a whole lot of surprises here in that department.
For the uninitiated, fight choreography in Korean films tends to favor realism. Flash and staging is downplayed as people get shot, knifed, punched, kicked, headbutted, and even bitten for good measure. To contrast it to Taken again, there’s probably a little over double the action in this compared with Taken. Our hero must battle not only the henchman horde, but also due to circumstances the cops are also on his tale.
Although there isn’t anything particularly new and original about the mayhem in this film, rest assured that the goods are delivered and even seasoned importers will be satisfied.
B for storytelling
B for fights