극비수사 (The Classified File)

A JCon Company Production
Distribution: Showbox
Rating: 15 and Over
Genre: Procedural
Running Time: 107 Min
Shooting Time: 2014/Jun/09~Sep/19 (60 Dates)
Release: 2015/Jun/18

WITH 김윤석 (Kim Yoon-Seok) as Gong Gil-Yong; 유해진 (Yoo Hae-Jin) as Kim Joong-San; 송영창 (Song Young-Chang) as Eun-Joo's Father; 이정은 (Lee Jung-Eun) as Eun-Joo's Mother; 장영남 (Jang Young-Nam) as Eun-Joo's Aunt; 장명갑 (Jang Myeong-Gap) as Chief Inspector Yoo; 정호빈 (Jung Ho-Bin) as Seo Jung-Hak; 진선미 (Jin Seon-Mi) as Joong-San's Wife; 이준혁 (Lee Joon-Hyeok) as Mae Seok-Hwan; 박효주 (Park Hyo-Joo) as Gil-Yong's Wife; 이재용 (Lee Jae-Yong) as Fortuneteller Baek; 

CREW Director 곽경택 (Kwak Kyung-Taek) Executive Producer 유주영 (Yoo Joo-Young) | Screenplay 한대덕 (Han Dae-Deok) 곽경택 (Kwak Kyung-Taek) Original Story 공길용 (Gong Gil-Yong) | Director of Photography 기세훈 (Gi Se-Hoon) Lighting 정영민 (Jung Young-Min) Music 김형석 (Kim Hyung-Seok) Art Direction 김유정 (Kim Yoo-Jung) Editor 김창주 (Kim Chang-Joo) Action Choreography 양길영 (Yang Gil-Young) 서승억 (Seo Seung-Eok)

BOX OFFICE
KOFIC Nationwide
TOTAL REVENUE: 22,389,535,897 Won
TOTAL ADMISSIONS: 2,860,786
BUDGET: 8,000,000,000 Won

Photo ⓒ Jcon Company, Showbox

SYNOPSIS

Busan in 1978. Gil-young, a veteran detective got the special request from the parents of a missing child, Eun-joo, to investigate her case. As the clever kidnapper eludes the police, the case becomes more and more of a mystery. When Joong-san, the fortuneteller foretells Eun-joo’s whereabouts, people get to listen to what he says as the situation goes into more despair with no remark on Eun-joo. He also tells that Gil-young is the only one who can save her. With no one to trust, Gil-yong and Joong-san come closing in around the kidnapper using any means possible. This movie is the record of 33 days of two men going through hell to find a missing girl and bring her back home alive. [KoBiz]

IN SHORT

Mixed in between commercial fare of uneven success and quality, the backbone of Kwak Kyung-Taek's career has always been that homegrown Busan ambiance he is often so aptly able to convey – making him the most endearingly provincial of Korean directors, if you can somehow turn that into a compliment. This time Kwak even tries to bank on that feeling explicitly (as opposed to implictly imbuing his films with unique Busan flair), trying to create his own 살인의 추억 (Memories of Murder) out of a real life kidnapping which animated local news in the late 1970s by focusing on humanism and mise-en-scene over genre tropes. The result is flawed but fascinating, as it's often the case with his works.

What tends to work most of the time is the mood and feel of the film itself, much in the same way Bong Joon-Ho managed to establish in his 2003 film. Thanks in no small part to a carefully selected (so many cast members exude the look of provincial urban Korea in the late 1970s, down to the bit players) and very effective cast, this ambiance tends to overcome slightly saccharine characterization and the usual “warts” that come with such a local focus – first consequence being that characters who barely scratch the surface in terms of complexity gain a charm of their own by simply adding to the whole “smell” of Busan. Put two able thesps like Kim Yoon-Seok and Yoo Hae-Jin in this setting, and you know they'll have no problem delivering the goods.

What never really works, though, is the procedural part, perhaps because Yoo's fortunetelling exploits are not given the sufficient credibility to make him an integral part of the whodunit plot – he eventually becomes a sort of inspirational presence for the family of the kidnapped child, point he even expounds in one of the film's most unfortunate lines of dialogue. But, especially when you look at the undying conviction that moves Gil-Yong (who, like Song Kang-Ho's character in Bong's masterpiece, comes from a generation of Koreans who “got things done” out of sheer perseverance and almost poignant refusal to give up), the film still has its moments. It's just that with such a flat third act, acting as a sort of payoff for all the suffering that came before (something of a tendency for Kwak as of late), a lot of what came before kind of loses its impact.

Not a bad film by any means, especially for what concerns production design and verisimilitude. It's just a bit too safe for its own good, something that the now veteran director wouldn't have done 15 years ago.

ACTING GRADES

75 김윤석 (Kim Yoon-Seok)
72 장명갑 (Jang Myeong-Gap)
71 유해진 (Yoo Hae-Jin)
71 정호빈 (Jung Ho-Bin)
71 이재용 (Lee Jae-Yong)
71 진선미 (Jin Seon-Mi)
70 송영창 (Song Young-Chang)
70 장영남 (Jang Young-Nam)
70 이정은 (Lee Jung-Eun)
70 이준혁 (Lee Joon-Hyeok)
69 박효주 (Park Hyo-Joo)

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