It’s not often that I say this, but you have to forgive me. I have been avoiding Won Bin like I owe him money. You know how everyone else goes on about a person, and just to be contrary, you stay far away? Yeah, that was me and Won Bin. Please forgive me. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is, I have been seeing Won Bin before, and just didn’t know it. He was looking at me the whole time. Oh, he didn’t look like he does in The Man From Nowhere, no, that would have been too easy. Won Bin is in one of my favorite Korean movies, Guns and Talks.
He is also in Mother. Maybe I was focusing too much on the mother, which, if you’ve seen the film, isn’t hard to do.
If you’ve seen either one of those, you KNOW that he’s not performing in quite the same way as he does in The Man From Nowhere. So I was very surprised to see him in this film directed by Kim Jeong Beom. Yes, it’s a story of revenge, which the Koreans do so well. And it is well shot. The action scenes are very stylish as well, very well done. What I appreciated about this film is that it just put you in the middle of the story, not really connecting the dots until well into the film. This is refreshing, because there are few things worse than knowing what is going to happen.
What I found interesting about the film, though, was Won Bin’s character (and this has nothing to do with those shots of him with no shirt on–let’s focus on his acting ability! 😉 Increasingly, I’m finding male protagonists, in so-called action dramas, being allowed to be more emotional. Cha Tae Sik isn’t a mindless killing machine. He doesn’t just snap one day. The film does a very delicate job of setting him up as an emotional man, albeit one with special ops training. And the set up isn’t as obvious as it could be. The tender object of his emotion is a little street urchin who lies and steals. But she grows on you, and on Tae Sik. He also feels responsible for her, even before the horrific events that send them spiraling into the brutal world of illegal trafficking in organs and drugs. Her presence is even more tension-filled if you’ve watched Asian films before. Kids are not off-limits; they are not safe. So when crazed guy gets a hold of her, you can’t be sure that things are going to turn out ok.
I also found the interesting weaving of themes of immigration into this film. It does matter that people are Chinese or Korean in this film, and provides another interesting layer for me. The dynamics place the Chinese as the marginalized people, on the fringes, where no one seems to notice that things are awry. They become the perfect victims in the illegal trade.
I liked this movie. I know it may not be fashionable to say so, but it was a good “first” introduction to Won Bin. 🙂
Photo Credits: 2.bp.blogspot.com
Guns & Talks Trailer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUTDcxQ18cM
Mother Trailer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPcijFQ4PpU