IT’S LIKE A JUNGLE OUT THERE
Director duo Ui-Seok Jo and Byung-Seo Kim bring you 2013’s South Korean crime thriller “Cold Eyes“, also known as “Gam-Si-Ja-Deul“. It features three solid actors: Han Hyo-Joo, Jung Woo-Sung and Sol Kyung-Gu and also features a great soundtrack that keeps the movie-blood flowing. The story might not be the most revolutionary one, but it does the job, so to speak ( or write ). It’s also nearly two hours long, making it a pretty sizable bite to chew down.
The opening twenty minutes ( that’s before the title ever even pops up on-screen ) have you following two separate, yet related, storylines. The first involves a criminal mastermind orchestrating a bank heist in plain daylight. The second is about a young undercover recruit, riding the subway, shadowing the man she was sent to investigate.
The criminal mastermind in question is called James, played by veteran actor Jung Woo-Sung. He’s absolutely perfect for a role like this. In fact, “Cold Eyes” marks his first time playing a villain, but you really couldn’t tell. His character, James, is micro-managing a crew of bank robbers from a nearby rooftop while the action unfolds in the streets below.
On the other end of the spectrum, Ha Yoon-Joo ( Han Hyo-Joo ), is working hard to impress her superiors. Camouflaged among the unsuspecting crowd, she is memorizing every movement of her mark. She’s not fully fledged yet and her shortcomings become somewhat apparent during her first mission. However, her mnemonic skills give her a distinct advantage in this kind of profession.
Apparently, this is also the first time Han Hyo-Joo portrays a member of the police force. She does an acceptable job, to be sure. Unfortunately, I thought that she had a lot less presence on-screen than her counterpart.
Her direct superior, Chief Hwang, is certainly not a match in terms of badass-ness compared to James. He’s not nearly as ruthless either, but still is a tough adversary in my book. His training methods are hands-on and he quickly takes special interest in Yoon-Joo. He is played by another of South Korea’s finest, Sol Kyung-Gu, who produces yet another performance of note ( some of you may remember him from the 1999 film “Peppermint Candy“ ).
From then on, the police will eventually track down the whereabouts of one the robbers and put Chief Hwang and Yoon-Joo in James’ cross-hairs. Meanwhile, James will start to resent the deteriorating relationship he has with his mentor, the leader of the organization.
The first thing that struck me when if first started watching “Gam-Si-Ja-Deul” was how polished the camera-work is. Less than five minutes in, I was sold. Then, the music chained itself admirably well to the flow of the film, which is a big plus. I’m happy to report that this is exactly the kind of stuff I truly crave in order to enjoy my cinematic experiences to their fullest. In that regard, “Cold Eyes” did not disappoint.
The director of the movie, or directors should I say, I don’t know much about. I haven’t seen any of their previous material so I took this one with a grain of salt. It seems like they did as well. This film doesn’t take itself too seriously for the most part and neither should you. Maybe it’s a tad guilty of trying to mix genres too much, but it’s a solid outing for two guys I’ve never heard of.
If I were to sum up this review in just one line, it would pretty much look like this: good, but not great. That’s been the theme of the recent movies I’ve covered these past few months. Solid acting, good directing and the occasional twist here and there. “Gam-Si-Ja-Deul” is no different. If you like this kind of flick, I don’t see why you couldn’t get a Saturday night’s worth of entertainment with “Cold Eyes“. Just don’t go looking for this one in any top 10 films of the year lists and you’ll be alright. If I was harsh though, I’d label this one “a twist-less paint-by-numbers good cop vs bad guy” movie. But I’m not that harsh.
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