Starring: Dong-Kun Jang, Jung-Jae Lee, Mi-youn Lee
Directed by: Kyung-Taek Kwak
Take a Tom Clancy style plot, add in some revenge and reunification themes, set the blender to puree and watch the vortex of testosterone flood the screen. ”Typhoon“ is a clearly Korean action thriller with aspects of political intrigue, cat and mouse chases, random violence, seedy international characters, and touching family moments.
You may ask yourself, yet another Korean revenge movie? Don’t directors Ki-duk Kim and Chan-wook Park sufficiently cover that category? Fear not, this is no Oldboy clone. The psychadelic imaginativeness is replaced by a very Hollywood style action movie reality. The production quality, camera angles and action sequences definitely have a western feel to them. Sin, the villain with the black wardrobe, long, wet and constantly dripping hair, and bloodshot eyes is strangely familiar though. He’s angry about something, and he’s going to do something to get even. What those two somethings are exactly develops the film.
Sejong is the ruggedly handsome Navy officer sent by his South Korean government to hunt down Sin. Random gratuitous violence provide the requisite excitement, with automatic weapons blazing. In between are the moments where we learn of Sin’s conflicted nature, and the love that drives his hate. There’s the requisite dramatic scenes, with sufficient screaming and crying to make the intended emotional message clear: Koreans villains are an awfully angry bunch, and the national separation of families cut deep into the Korean psyche to make them all that much angrier. However, this is not quite enough to distract the viewer from the fact that this still an action flick, and the blazing guns return soon enough.
Like a lot of recent Asian films, Typhoon brings aboard a subtitled international ensemble. The Thai pirates, Chinese soldiers, Australian ambassador, and Russian mobsters obviously both add to the intrigue, but also give an impression of a great apparent breadth of the film as Sejong chases Sin through various countries and barges past surprisingly inept customs officials.
This is clearly not an art film, and there’s little artistic creativity. There’s plenty of cliche elements from other films packaged together into an intriguing and distinctive enough package that will bring you through the two hour run time.