Judge David Johnson is the prime suspect in the Case of the Missing Pants.
Our review of The Suspect, published May 2nd, 2014, is also available.
Nork the fridge.
Korea's closed the gap with the West in a big way when it comes to compact cars, smartphones and flatscreen TVs. If The Suspect is any indication, they're making great progress on the balls-out action film front too.
Facts of the Case
When Dong-chul (Gong Yoo), the most dangerous agent in North Korea, suddenly shows up in the South, insanity drops. His presence across the border is a mystery, and only deepens when he's discovered at the crime scene of a murdered CEO. Before the authorities could nab him, Dong-chul bolts, cradling a pair of mysterious glasses that have explosive information on them. He instantly becomes the most wanted man on the Korean peninsula. With only a reporter as an ally, Dong-chul races to unravel the mystery behind the glasses and avoid getting killed. But mostly he wants to avoid getting killed.
I saw this teased before another Well Go USA release earlier in the year and was intrigued. Obviously, trailers oversell what they're promoting and I've been left high and dry before (yo, Special ID, I'm looking at you). But the story combined with what appeared to be a high-end production and loads of action compelled me; thus I jumped all over the opportunity to sink my teeth into The Suspect, hoping beyond hope that this was the next big, cool import.
The verdict? It sort of is.
Right away, let me just say this: The Suspect is a good time and worth checking out for action fans. The storyline is solid (if not a bit too out there), the protagonist is a verified bad-ass and the action sequences are burly and, for the most part, executed in glorious, practical fashion. Unfortunately it falls just short of true "Must-See Gem" status, thanks primarily to an overlong runtime and an ill-conceived ending.
But let's not dwell on the negative, okay? In fact, those are pretty much my only complaints about the film. On the bright side, The Suspect proves that the Korean actioner industry is a force to be reckoned with. Production values are top-notch, showing off a look and feel of a big-budget Hollywood picture. The action scenes are staged with ambition, punctuated by a pair of genuinely exciting, bombastic and debris-laden car chases.
Anchoring the mayhem is Gong Yoo, who makes for a compelling lead. His characterization is primarily one of cold, calculating, brutal efficiency (save for a twist at the end, where his true intentions are revealed) and his physical on-screen presence, particularly when it comes to the pugilism, is impressive. Even better: the writers have placed a fantastic foil against him, the grizzled lead investigator (Park Hee-Soon) with a personal stake in the hunt. It's very much a cat-and-mouse game for large amounts of the runtime, and it serves the finale well when loyalties shift. Good stuff.
Also good: the Blu-ray, which features a slick A/V treatment, fronted by the rich 2.4:1, 1080p transfer and the boisterous DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. No extras (save for the trailer) are a bummer, though.
Some pruned minutes off the runtime and a tighter ending would have done wonders, but The Suspect remains a very good action film. Track it down.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go USA
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