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The Yellow Sea (2010)
Director: Na Hong-jin
Not sure why they needed to explain the history of the location, but the story begins in China's Yanbian Prefecture between North Korea, China and Russia. It is also the first stop of escapees from North Korea and until recently there was a thriving illegal cross border trade into the state.
Gu-nam (Ha Jung-woo) works as a taxi driver who gambles away his money at night due to the hopelessness of being in debt to some local hoods from a loan for his wife's visa to South Korea, who has since broken contact with him.
The hoods introduce him to local big man Myun-ga (Kim Yoon-suk), who has a deal for him to make his money and get the chance to see his wife again. He doesn't really have much of a choice and he knows the plan is unlikely to succeed, but agrees any way.
After being smuggled into South Korea with a load of other human traffic, Gu-nam finds his target for assassination, but things go pear shaped when two other people try and kill his target and he finds someone else finishing the job by the time he gets to the body.
Cue police and sirens and the most inept police chase outside of the Blues Brothers (so many cop cars crash into each other) and Gu-nam just barely escapes. Little does he know that the person he was sent to kill has connections who are now looking for him and Myun-ga is about to become involved personally.
Very action packed and violent, there always seems to be something going on and just as you think the main character is not going to escape, he makes his getaway to the point where it does get a bit silly after a while. C'mon! Escaping a car and a truck crash in the same night? Stab and bullet wounds?
There is a strange sense of humour in this film along with all the killing, as evidenced when the mob attempts a hit on Myun-ga, only to fail abysmally and have him standing in the middle of the blood-splattered room in his boxer shorts with a hatchet saying "what were you thinking?"
Kim Yoon-suk is funny as Myun-ga and reminded me of Song Kang-ho at times. He revels in the role and seems almost indestructible as he attacks people with hatchets, slits their throat with a knife and bashes their brains out with a bone with some meat still on it (we never learn what type of meat.)
Ha Jung-woo as Gu-nam is a bit more understated in comparison, but is still a strong enough character to hold the interest of the story, even when the mob politics takes the forefront in the story.
I don't know if this film will be remade like the Chaser was before it, but it is worth seeing in its own right and I would recommend it if you are a fan of thrillers and crime dramas.
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