Baek Woon-hak’s Chronicles of Evil

“Chronicles of Evil” is another skillful thriller that uses the concept of revenge to present an elaborate but unoriginal story.

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Detective Squad Chief Choi Chang-sik is a decorated officer who has the respect of both his subordinates and the people above him. As the former are preparing him for a big promotion, the latter throw a party for him that ends up with Choi half-drunk, half-asleep in a taxi. When he wakes up, he realizes that the taxi driver is taking him somewhere else and when the car stops, the guy is revealed to be someone from his past who wants to exact revenge. The two of them fight and Choi ends up killing him. However, in front of the prospect of his promotion, he decides to cover-up the crime. Alas, the next day the corpse of the deceased is found hanging from a crane in front of the police station making the murder a media “sensation.” Furthermore, one of his protégés, Cha Dong-jae seems to be on to him, while he struggles to hide evidences and to manipulate the investigation.

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Baek Woon-hak pens and directs a genuine Korean crime thriller, in the fashion that has brought Korean cinema to the place it now holds internationally. The perpetrator is known from the beginning, a secret from the past, an utterly unexpected plot twist, and of course, revenge are all present in here, defining the film. Add to that the permeating agony, the growing tension that occurs as the net is closing on Choi, and an evident remark regarding the Korean police’s technological prowess, but also its corruption and you have the whole film. This, however, does not mean that the concept is dull or unskilled, to the contrary, but the fact remains that nothing here is original.

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Baek bases the film upon Son Hyun-joo as Choi, and he delivers in great fashion, magnificently portraying his character’s growing angst and inner struggle throughout the duration of the movie. Park Seo-joon is very good, particularly towards the end, Ma Dong-seok is quite good as skillful but naive detective Oh, the second in command after Choi, and Daniel Choi carries a small but important part, although he makes an impression through his looks rather than his actual acting.
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Technically the film is very artful, with the sound and music by Hwang Sang-jun heightening the essence Baek wants to give each time, and the cinematography by Park Jong-chul and editing by Steve M. Choe presenting elaborate images and sequences, with the one during the interrogation definitely standing apart.

“Chronicles of Evil” will definitely satisfy all the fans of the genre, although it does not offer anything more to a category that is already close to becoming preterit.