“National Security” is a unique entry in the field, because apart from the thriller element, it could only be described as sociopolitical exploitation, since for the most part, it consists of scenes of a man being tortured.

 

The script is based on the memoir by Kim Geun-tae, a democracy activist who was kidnapped and tortured by national police for 22 days, and who later on became a minister of the government. It describes the facts before, but mainly during these 22 days when he was tortured in the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, initially by “police officers” and later by a head interrogator nicknamed “The Undertaker”.

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Chung Ji-young directs a cruel film, which takes place almost exclusively in a claustrophobic environment that consists of a cell and a torture room. He pulls no punches in the depiction of the various tortures, thus resulting in a truly grotesque spectacle. In that aspect, he is largely assisted by the detailed and realistic cinematography of Seo Min-soo, which at times, results in a spectacle that touches the borders of the documentary. Furthermore, he focuses on the psychosynthesis of the torturers, in a rare tactic for characters like that. As he had stated, “I wanted to show how torture affects both the torturer and the victim.”

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The film is largely based on the performance by Park Won-sang, who is magnificent in the role of an everyday man who is prosecuted by the whole system, due to his ideology. He should probably receive an award for all the suffering he had to endure during the film.

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Lee Geung-young is also impressive as the cruel and relentless “Undertaker”, with his cold-blooded composure and the joy he seems to derive from the tortures he submits the prisoners.

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To summarize, “National Security” is a very hard to watch, although highly realistic film, that uses shock in order to present a clear political message.

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My name is Panos Kotzathanasis and I am Greek. Being a fan of Asian cinema and especially of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since I was a little kid, I cultivated that love during my adolescence, to extend to the whole of SE Asia. Starting from my own blog in Greek, I then moved on to write for some of the major publications in Greece, and in a number of websites dealing with (Asian) cinema, such as Taste of Cinema, Hancinema, EasternKicks, Chinese Policy Institute, and of course, Asian Movie Pulse. in which I still continue to contribute. In the beginning of 2017, I launched my own website, Asian Film Vault, which I merged in 2018 with Asian Movie Pulse, creating the most complete website about the Asian movie industry, as it deals with the almost every country from East and South Asia, and definitely all genres. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.