Judge Jason Panella might not be shocking, but he's hummable and you can dance to him.
He'll do anything to keep her safe.
Commitment isn't breaking any new ground as a spy thriller. But the film's virtue isn't in originality; it's in how consistent the film is in being just above average.
Facts of the Case
The son of a failed North Korean spy, Ri Myung-hoon (K-pop star Choi Seung-hyun, 71: Into the Fire) is recruited to pick up where his father left off. Myung-hoon is given extra motivation: do it and the North Korean goons will free his kid sister (Kim Yoo-jung, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). If he doesn't do it, they both die.
After two years of intensive training, a now 19-year-old Myung-hoon infiltrates South Korean. His cover as a high school student kindles a friendship with the shy Lee Hye-in (Han Ye-ri, As One). What Myung-hoon doesn't realize is that the South Korean intelligence service has a lead on his whereabouts and might stop him before he can save his sister.
Sometimes it's refreshing to watch a spy thriller that doesn't reinvent the wheel. Commitment (Korean title Dong-chang-saeng, "The Graduate") is just that: it's got some cool action set-pieces, some interesting drama, and some decent topicality woven throughout. Mind-blowing? Nope. Watchable? Very.
Choi (also known as T.O.P) is quite good in the lead. He's a heartthrob in South Korea, and his hip hop group Big Bang is a pretty big deal in both his home country and Japan. He isn't dead weight, though—Choi plays Myung-hoon with some nice subtle touches. Myung-hoon is a young man put in a very bad situation, and Choi lets the emotional turmoil boil a bit just under the service. Choi also busts faces with the best of them, as a handful of fight scenes prove. The movie isn't all action, though. Newcomers Park Hong-soo (director) and Kim Soo-young (writer) spend a lot of time building up the high school subplot, and at times this storyline is more interesting than Myung-hoon's espionage antics. They spend quite a bit of time building up the friendship between Myung-hoon and Hye-in, which thankfully steers clear of sappy and supports the A-story action.
Commitment manages to tie the film to the death of Kim Jong-il, which keeps popping up throughout the movie. Kim's imminent death and the resulting behind-the-scenes power shifts don't feel forced, and provide some nice context as the movie unfolds.
But while Commitment is impressively competent, it doesn't seem to strive for more. The fight scenes are good, but kind of tame in some respects. The story is engaging, but seems comfortable sticking with a tried and true spy flick template. Even the direction and cinematography are above average, but just. It's refreshing when a movie comfortably fits into a familiar pattern, but some new wrinkles would've been nice.
Well Go USA's Blu-ray release of Commitment is also solid. The 2.35:1/1080p widescreen transfer looks great, though the workmanlike approach of the cinematography doesn't give the transfer many chances to really shine. The 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio track is the real deal, though—it uses action scenes especially well, with impressive gunshots and meaty fistfights. The only letdown is the extras: there's a trailer and a short "Making Of" featurette (10:30).
Solid entertainment. Nothing more or less.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go USA
Review content copyright © 2014 Jason Panella; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.