Judge David Johnson opened the Berlin File. All it contained was a few JPGs of Donna D'errico.
To hunt for the truth you must kill all the lies.
You have to admit, that's kind of a cool tagline. It doesn't really make much sense, but it's grabby and, partnered with the raucous disc cover art of a man shooting while explosions explode and helicopters fly and cars overturn in the background, makes for a compelling impulse watch, no?
My preamble to these imports is the same: will it be the next one? The next big thing, the under-the-radar gem, the bad-ass Asian actioner that would sit proudly on my shelf and be unveiled to any passer-by interested in primo hand-to-hand mayhem.
Along comes The Berlin File and I brought with it the same hope. The story centers around a North Korean secret agent who finds himself exposed when an illegal gun buy goes wrong. Now caught in the crossfire of all manner of power players in the international espionage game, he scrambles to get to the bottom of the betrayal. It doesn't help that all signs point to his wife…
While there are some action scenes here and there, The Berlin File is not an action movie. It's more a crime thriller than anything, as our protagonist works to unravel the reason he's totally boned. The narrative plods along at a methodical, procedural pace as he embarks on his investigative misadventure. Bullets occasionally have to be dodged, but this is a film more interested in revealing the Big Bad than thrilling with visceral action.
Taken in that context, and adjusting expectations, The Berlin File is decent. The film is well staged and slick and the action is grounded and gritty. While it's not a super-empathetic experience to get behind and root for a North Korean enforcer, he's a compelling character. Also, the payoff is a winner (if a bit drawn out).
The disc brings a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix (Korean and English dubbed), a making-of feature and deleted scenes.
So there you go, if you want something that pounds the fisticuffs drum once in a while, but serves up a fairly enjoyable mystery—and you like to read subtitles!—The Berlin File should suit your tastes. It's just a tad long in the tooth.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: CJ Entertainment
• Deleted Scenes
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