Nowhere to Hide

Dir: Lee Myung-se
Star: Park Joong-Hoon, Jang Dong-Gun, Ahn Sung-ki, Choi Ji-Woo

The eternal battle between style and (lack of) substance comes to a knock-down, drag-out brawl here. If my preference for content over visual flashiness means the result remains a bit of a foregone conclusion, this does at least put up a good fight before going down under the weight of its cinematic excess. Detective Woo (Park) is doggedly hunting the murderer of a gangland boss, who cuts down his victim in slow-mo, on a staircase, as the rain pours down and the Bee-Gees sing Holiday. Even as the hunt takes place over several months, Woo's determination groes, and the pursuit eventually becomes as much personal for Woo as criminal until a final confrontation - again, across a rainswept Korean urban landscape - with his target.

Slow-motion, black-and-white, you name it, everything but the kitchen sink is hurled at the screen by Lee - and you sense the sink is missing only because it was nailed to the wall. However, this can't conceal the lack of content, which alternates between chase scenes and sequences of waiting around, both of which go on longer than they should. The film has some great moments, no question; the opening killing is an astounding set-piece of visual show-offishness. However, the return on Lee's preference for whizz-bangery declines steadily, and before the end, I was left to yearn for simpler pleasures than can be offered by a director who regards time as a dimension to be toyed with, like a rubber-band. Lee has great potential in the pop-video market; I'm less convinced his talents lie in feature-films.

[June 2008]

Hide and sick
See also... [Index] [Next] [Previous] [TC Home Page]