Saturday, August 12, 2017

Glad to See Hyun Bin On-Screen Again in 'Confidential Assignment'

Confidential Assignment is about a North Korean investigator named Im Cheol-ryung (Hyun Bin) who is sent to look into a disturbance happening in a warehouse that prints counterfeit money.  Disobeying the order to stand by, he leads his team into it, where they encounter a group of rogue soldiers stealing the operation’s master plates.   However, to his shock, he discovers that his superior Cha Ki-seong (Kim Joo-hyuk) is the mastermind of the heist.  The confrontation between the two groups results to the death of his team, including the woman he loves, and Ki-sheong absconding with the plates to Seoul, South Korea.  Cheol-ryung is then given the assignment of capturing Ki-sheong and retrieving the plates.  But he needs to do this within three days and while a South Korean detective named Kang Jin-tae (Yoo Hae-jin) is watching over him.

I find Confidential Assignment a bit disappointing.  Not because it’s bad.  But because of all the great Korean films I’ve seen this year, it’s underwhelming in comparison.  Nonetheless, as an action film, it’s very entertaining.  It’s quite clich├ęd and dumb.  But I think it’s pretty much what it’s going for – a standard “buddy cop” action flick.  And it executes the formula to perfection; as a result, it’s familiar but competent.

The action scenes aren’t mindblowing.  But they aren’t lazy either.  Actors execute the fight choreography steadily, and there are a couple of gratifying high points.  In addition, it has a killer soundtrack accompanying these sequences.  The music really gets you into a butt-kicking, fist-pumping mood.
I first encountered Hyun Bin in Hyde, Jekyll, Me.  I found it an unsatisfying K-drama in the end, but one of the best things about it was Hyun Bin.  I’m surprised I haven’t seen him sooner after Hyde, Jekyll, Me when he’s such an excellent, charismatic actor.  And I checked: Confidential Assignment is indeed his first project since then.  Whatever the reason for the hiatus, I’m glad to see him again on screen.  He’s terrific in this movie.  He played the role of the handsome, brooding, badass action hero impeccably.  And it seems he performed his own stunts – solidly, if I might add.

Meanwhile, it’s the first time I’ve encountered Yoo Hae-jin.  He’s okay, I guess.  But I wasn’t that much impressed with him.  However, he did display wonderful chemistry with Hyun Bin, and his character Kang Jin-tae – who provides the comic relief and heart – soundly serves his purpose.  It’s just that other character actors come to mind who I think could have done a much better job in the role.

I also found amusement in seeing in this movie some actors I first saw in previous Koreanovelas I had watched.  The antagonist of Doctors (Um Hyo-sup), who I will never forget for his hilarious “dramatic moment” in the last episode, plays the potential buyer of the metal plates.  Coach Sung-eun (Jang Young-nam, who is one of the prettiest forty-somethings I’ve ever seen) of Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo plays Kang Jin-tae’s wife.  And Im Yoon-ah is as adorable here – playing Jin-tae’s freeloading sister-in-law who crushes on Cheol-ryung – as she was when she did her “ramen dance” in The K2.
One thing that didn’t quite work for me is the ending.  It felt abrupt.  Though it does have an in-credits epilogue that somewhat offers a satisfying closure.  Still, I prefer the deleted scene which I saw in Youtube (SPOILERS).  In it, Jin-tae and his family bid farewell to Cheol-ryung before he returns back home to North Korea.  I feel that that would have wrapped the movie up nicely.

Also, I wish it had better comedy.  There are ample humorous moments, yes, but I never really got to laugh out loud.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed Confidential Assignment overall.  Though it doesn’t have any substantial stuff to offer, it fulfills the requirements of a fun action movie.

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