Looking back at the Hollywood blockbuster kích hoạt films of 2011 when the year was about khổng lồ end, I found none of them could đứng đầu the raw realism of the ambitious South Korean thriller "The Yellow Sea" (2010). When I endured "Transformers 3" last summer, I had no excitement at all with its pointless loud action scenes decorated with weightless CGI. In the case of "The Yellow Sea," real people and real vehicles are put into the action on the screen, và they are far more visceral than those big, humongous CGI robots fighting on the streets of Chicago.

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After the Cold War ended, trung quốc and South Korea have no longer been enemies since the 1990s, & Joseonjok people began coming lớn South Korea khổng lồ earn money lượt thích other immigrant workers from Southeastern Asia and Africa. Some of them live và work legally, but the others bởi vì not, so they have been a social issue in South Korea, along with the other illegal immigrant workers. They are not often treated fairly, & we hear news about them from time lớn time.

The central character of "The Yellow Sea," Gu-nam (Ha Jeong-woo), works as a xe taxi driver in Yanji. His wife went lớn South Korea, but there has been no news or money from her for a long time. He has been frustrated about that. Living alone in a squalid apartment building (their only daughter lives at his mother"s home), he has been mired in despair và gambling debt. The loan sharks, to lớn whom he owes 60,000 Yuan (around $9500), keep visiting his home, and sarcastically remind him that even selling all of his organs will not solve his problem. To make the matters worse, he has recently been fired from his job.



On one day, the local crime quái thú Myeon Jeong-hak (Kim Yoon-Seok), or Myeon-ga in short, approaches to him with an offer he cannot refuse. If Gu-nam goes to lớn Seoul & kills a man, Myeon-ga will resolve his gambling debt problem. In addition, because there is some spare time before the deadline, he will also get the chance to tìm kiếm for his wife while he is in South Korea. Gu-nam accepts the offer; he takes a train lớn Dalian & then boards a small ship along with illegal immigrants for going across the Yellow Sea to lớn South Korea.

The story is divided into the four titled chapters. The first chapter ("Taxi Driver") is focused on establishing its nhân vật and his hopeless daily life, and Na Hong-jin does a good job of vividly capturing the gray, depressing feeling surrounding Gu-nam & others. Shot in Yanji và the surrounding areas, the places và the people feel authentic with the painstaking details on clothes & sets, and, above all, that harsh feeling of cold winter days. (From my original review: "It may will make you want a big cup of hot coffee when you walk out of the theater.").

Gu-nam does not talk much about himself except in a seemingly meaningless opening narration on the epidemic of rabies during his childhood, but small moments with brief dialogues tell a lot about his miserable life. There is a brief scene with his father-in-law who has nothing else lớn say except a short apology while Gu-nam looks at the smashed glass frame of his wedding day photograph. They were probably happy at that time, but now he is frequently haunted by the dream of his wife having an affair with someone in South Korea. Has she really abandoned him as the others around him say?


The movie takes a considerable amount of time at a the languid pace while slowly building tension with the approaching deadline. The second chapter ("Murderer") is about how alien the South Korea society is to Gu-nam. He is mostly taciturn, but the people, including the guy he is supposed to kill, always see who Gu-nam is through his awkwardness and accent. While concocting a fairly clever plan for executing his hit job through rudimentary night surveillance on his feet, he also searches for his wife, but, despite some helpful information about her, there is not much success in his search.

Finally, there comes the moment when he has to lớn commit murder as Myeon-ga demands, and here is a very good scene which is suspenseful in a Hitchcockian way. It"s a quiet cold winter night again, và Gu-nam is waiting for his target while hiding across from the building where his target lives on the đứng top floor. But an unexpected thing happens before he is ready to lớn go inside the building. The calm but intense suspense is meticulously presented through the motion-detecting light-bulb at each staircase of the building. By merely observing these lights serially turned on and off, a circumstance is clearly conveyed lớn us. Gu-nam now must do something--though he knows the situation is even more perilous after the target eventually goes inside the building.

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A bloody incident happens, so Gu-nam finds himself hounded by the police và others. One of the best moments in "The Chaser" was its exciting chase sequence through narrow alleys, and Na Hong-jin does not disappoint us in this case. He tries to vị trí cao nhất that with a rapid sequence in which our unfortunate nhân vật has khổng lồ run as fast as he can through the alleys & streets while attempting to lớn evade a bunch of policemen & several patrol cars. In this movie, the people are really running, & the vehicles get clashed or crashed with real impact on the screen, so you may wonder how Ha Jeong-woo went through all these situations while still in character. We can perhaps discern where they used stunt men và special effects through shot-by-shot analysis, but he might actually have survived them.


From the third chapter ("Joseonjok"), the plot grows thickener và complicated. It turns out that a crime trùm cuối operating in Seoul, Kim Tae-won (Cho Seong-ha), is involved with the incident. He is desperate to cover his trail by any means necessary, so he wants khổng lồ eliminate Gu-nam before the police catch him. However, the circumstance becomes more unpredictable when Myeon-ga enters South Korea with his gangsters to take care of the problem in his own way. Tae-won is willing khổng lồ allow that if Myeon-ga solves his trouble as he promises, but...

It is possible that you will get lost in the convoluted storyline. There are several things left unexplained, và the relationships between the characters are a little too complicated; maybe I"d need a big diagram for your better understanding. Even Korean viewers like me can fail khổng lồ get a barely audible but crucial clue when one character mumbles unconsciously before he dies, but most of you will probably watch it with subtitles, so you will easily understand what he says.

Nevertheless, the movie has enough power and ambition lớn drive its complicated story on a high-tension level, và it"s darkly exciting. In nightmarish circumstance, anything can happen, so the story sometimes goes against our expectations while holding our attention tightly even if we are a little confused. There is the terrific extended action sequence where one kind of chase is quickly followed by another kind of chase. This is quite intense because we can see two cars are not CGIs và are crashing against each other really hard while avoiding the other cars on the road - & the movie even has a real big container truck for a big moment lớn impress us.


Like "The Chaser," the movie is a grisly, violent film, và many characters, mostly criminals, get killed or injured in the process. You will probably recall Takeshi Kitano"s recent film "Outrage" (2010), a mathematic exercise of violence about a bloody meaningless war between Japanese gangsters. The gangsters in "The Yellow Sea" are no wiser than they are; they try to solve their problem, but remain stuck in the same position while wasting their time và effort. Their foolishness makes their mess bigger & bloodier and more chaotic, & the movie has morbid fun with their stupidity. The biggest irony in the story comes from the fact that the urban South Korean gangsters are quite unprepared for the beastly brutality of Myeon-ga và his less sophisticated men. Besides a hatchet and a knife, Myeon-ga also wields a big animal bone, which incidentally comes handy to him during one cringe-inducing fight scene, with no mercy to the guys who dare lớn stand on his way. While it is quite horrific to watch its frank, realistic handling of violence, the movie mercifully leaves some of his brutal rampage lớn our imagination.

Because it is a chase story và has more distinctive characters, "The Yellow Sea" does not thảm bại our interest despite the distant attitude toward its mayhem. In addition, it cares about some of its characters. Gu-nam becomes sympathetic lớn his target"s wife as he faces the possibility that his wife may be murdered. When he comes across her by coincidence, he promises to her that he will find who is responsible for her husband"s death và his misery. The problem is, Gu-nam is no more clever than cops or gangsters in the film, and, even during the last chapter ("The Yellow Sea"), there is nothing much he can do except staying alive. He later arrives at a quiet revelation scene where he stares at two characters from a distance at some place while saying nothing. Certainly there is the sense of betrayal và disillusion in the air, but it seems there is a lot more than that in Gu-nam"s disoriented mind.


The main performances are crucial in holding the film amid the violent carnage. Ha Jeong-woo, who scared the hell out of me with his chilling portrayal of a sadistic serial killer in "The Chaser," is now a flawed noir anh hùng writhing in confusion beyond his control. Gu-nam is not entirely likable, but we come khổng lồ feel sorry about his plight while watching him grasping for anything khổng lồ survive. On the opposite, Kim Yoon-seok, who chased after his co-actor in "The Chaser," is subtly menacing and then strikingly merciless as the larger-than-life villain, & Cho Seong-ha also gives a solid performance with increasing panic behind his face as the crime quái dị who turns out to have a motive quite petty compared to lớn all the troubles caused by it.