Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fantasia 2010: The Secret Reunion (2010)

Since Friday, yours truly has been to Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival and this is the first film I saw. Speaking about The Secret Reunion, while it's not a groundbreaking blockbuster, it has a leg to stand on. Besides, the film shows that South Korean filmmakers do a minimal effort to have a decent script even when they produce blockbusters.

The film begins with Lee Han-kyu (Song Kang-ho), an agent of the National Intelligence Service (NIS). His team has been on the tail of two North Korean spies - Song Ji-won (Kang Dong-won) and a mysterious man named Shadow (Jeon Gook-hwan) - who assassinate "North Korean defectors" living in South Korea. Lee's team next mission consists in intercepting the two North Korean spies before they assassinate Kim Jong-il's cousin who lives in Seoul. However, the plan goes awry for Lee's team. First of all, as the NIS agents were busy exchanging fires with Shadow, Ji-won escaped the crime scene. Nonetheless, Ji-won got photographed by an NIS agent without knowing it. Secondly, Lee didn't call any back up team, because he didn't want that team to take the credit for the arrest of Song Ji-won and Shadow. No wonder he got fired.

Six years later, Lee Han-kyu operates a private firm specialized in finding missing people and Song Ji-won is on the run in South Korea. During a mission, Lee Han-kyu comes across Song Ji-won. Besides, in order to lure Song Ji-won into working for his private firm, Lee Han-kyu pretends that he doesn't know him. As they become partner, Lee Han-kyu waits for the day when Song Ji-won will lead him to Shadow. In addition to that, Lee also wants to hand the two North Korean spies to the NIS by taking all the credit.

At the beginning, we have the feeling that we'll get one another amusing film about the tensions between South and North Korea. In fact, the film is quite entertaining and it's one of the rare action films that doesn't make gun silencers sound like a whisper. However, as The Secret Reunion advances in its storyline, the film has a lot of loose ends. In fact, we never thoroughly know what the "defectors", besides leaving North Korea, actually did to deserve a death at the hands of Shadow and Song Ji-won. Besides, The Secret Reunion becomes quite predictable. This means that you don't need to do an effort to guess what Lee Han-kyu will get at the end. Nonetheless, what definitely saves the film from being a pathetic blockbuster are the few plot twists concerning what Song Ji-won intends to do in order save his own ass while he has Lee Han-kyu behind his back.

Finally, seeing The Secret Reunion brings a lot of fresh air if you're a Westerner exposed to Hollywood blockbusters all year long. In fact, the film is more well written than most Hollywood blockbusters and you feel that the actors were cast because they know how to act.

Rating: 3.5/5

Origin:South Korea (2010)
Length:116 minutes
Screenplay:Jang Hun
Director:Jang Hung
Starring:Song Kang-ho, Kang Dong-won and Jeon Gook-hwan

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