Saturday, February 23, 2008

Soo (Korea 2007)

Soo (수) is a tale of revenge that's heavy on the bloodshed and Park Chan-wook isn't the man behind the lens. This time it's Japanese born director Yoichi Sai, who goes by the name of Choi Yang-il in Korea, filming his first all-Korean film. So how did he fair? Park my man, you don't have anything to worry about just yet.

Tae-Soo (Ji Jin-hee), or Soo as he's known, hasn't seen his brother Taejin (again Ji Jin-hee) in over nineteen years. When the two of them were young and had no one to rely on but each other, Soo made the mistake of trying to steal money from a gang boss by the name of Ku Yangwon. Since the boys are twins, the gang grabs Taejin mistakingly, beats the hell out of him, and from there out the boys were separated. After years of searching and using private investigators, Soo finally gets the call he's been waiting for. He contacts his brother so they can get together, but just as they are about to meet face-to-face, a bullet flies clear through Taejin's head, killing him instantly. After a heart-wrenching scene with what remains of estranged brother, Soo begins to look into Taejin's life to find out who he was. Taking things a step further, Soo even goes so far as to take on his brothers appearance (not hard considering they were twins) and identity by taking up his position as homicide detective at the local precinct. Settling into his new position, Soo is taking a statement from a thug brought in after getting into a fight. However, there's more to this guy than how he appears. He admits to Soo that he's a bit baffled to be sitting in front of him because he had put a bullet through his brain the night before. As you can imagine, Soo is losing his cool as he realizes the thug sitting before him is his brother's killer. At that moment, Soo receives a phone call from a mysterious man that thinks he's talking to Taejin. Police officer or not, it's clear that Taejin was dealing with some shifty characters and Soo wants to find out who these people are and what they're were all doing together. The minute the thug is released onto the street, he makes an attempt on Soo's life, with Soo confronting his attacker to try and get some answers but lets the killer go because he knows too much about Soo impersonating his brother. When he gets home, Soo is confronted by Taejin's girlfriend (Kang Seong-yong), also a cop, who can see through Soo's facade and wants answers, but Soo isn't ready to give 'em. Begrudgingly, the two of them begin to work together to find Yangwon's location so Soo can get his revenge.

There isn't a lot to Soo besides a simple plot of revenge. The gang killed his brother and now he wants them dead. Period. Before I started watching it, I was under the impression that this was going to be an "edgy" film with lots of over-the-top violence in it. For the most part the violence is there, but it's the bloodshed that feels over-the-top. I mean, these guys are practically swimming in the red stuff. I wasn't shocked or even that impressed with the action taking place. One scene has Soo using a lighter and a can of hairspray to stop invaders from breaking into his apartment. Instead of being a clever tactic, I thought it was too much and felt like watching "MacGyver". The "action" scenes are unfortunately spaced too far apart, and you're left with incredibly boring story elements in-between. Kang Seong-yong, who plays Taejin's girlfriend, acts as if shes in love with Soo even though they've only known each other a few days. The two of them get in way too many fights that seem as if they're an old married couple and it just feels strangely out of place. Her character got on my nerves because she just nagged Soo the entire time. There are other story elements in place here, such as the homicide detective trying to find Soo and the relationship that Soo has with his mentor (Jo Kyeong-hwan), but both feel like nothing more than distractions from Soo trying to get his revenge. Really, you just don't care about these elements of the story. By the time Soo confronts Yangwon I knew it would just be more stabbing and not much else. Basically, not very satisfying.

As a whole, unsatisfied is exactly how Soo left me feeling. Maybe I was foolish for expecting more (damn you internet forums!), but what started off interestingly enough, ended up as entirely mediocre. It's been said many times before, but you'd be much better off watching any of Park Chan-wook's revenge-themed films. (Lee)

Grade: C-


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