There are many South Korean films about the evil North nemesis in many genres: from horror to thriller, from drama to comedy. What now if you combine the elements of comedy, drama and thriller? Or even better, what if you start out as a comedy and then switch to a dramatic thriller later on? That is exactly what happeneds with Secretly Greatly, a film that follows three undercover North Korean soldiers that are on a mission of collecting data and watching the enemy’s movements in the South.
Kim Su Hyeon plays Won Ryu Hwan, one of the soldiers who is undercover as the neighborhood’s mentally impaired Dong-gu. Everybody makes fun of the strange person he pretends to be, falling, running and acting weird all over the place. But nobody even suspects he is a first class killer behind the drooling. It is a funny and interesting concept, and this part is worked out well in the film. He grows to love his life in the South, even though his sense for his mission stays strong. But yeah, it isn’t hard to start loving the sunny South when apparently the North is a moody country full of super killer soldiers that can jump around like ninjas. Intimidating and evil looking scar face commander included.
But as mentioned before, the film decides to switch from comedy to a thriller/drama in the second half, which is certainly an interesting move, but unfortunately not a very successful one. The film ends up lingering too long in the dramatic part, and you’ll find yourself totally forgetting you were watching a comedy just an hour ago. It probably would have been a more satisfying movie if it was around 20 minutes shorter as it leaves the viewer dealing with a very unbalanced whole.
But with the “the North is a country full of super killer soldiers that can jump around like ninjas” element come some nicely shot and executed action scenes. From hand to hand combat to chasing each other on rooftops, the film doesn’t lack in the action department. It is also very enjoyable to see how Kim Su Hyeon is able to switch from funny strange Dong-gu to the cool total bad-ass super spy he really is behind the charade. His co-stars Park Gi-Ung and Lee Hyeon-U have a bit less interesting characters but are entertaining to watch nonetheless.
Secretly Greatly ends up being kind of a mixed bag because of the switch in genre. It is a fun and interesting concept with enjoyable moments, but they should have kept it in one direction. Nevertheless, it surely is fun seeing those super soldiers doing their thing, whether that is fighting each other or drooling all over the place.