Directed by Kyung-Taek Kwak.
Written by Kyung-Taek Kwak.
Starring Dong-Kun Jang and Jung-Jae Lee.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 5/27/06
The DC Film Society screened "Typhoon" this
week, a Korean blockbuster that has made its way to the
States...reminiscent of the last Korean action film that I saw,
"Shiri", the story of
a South Korean good guy versus a North Korean bad guy made me think
even in my very limited exposure that these guys have to fall in
love with a different storyline!
South Korean naval officer Se-jong Kang (Lee
Jung-jae), who is apparently the James Bond-ish agent available at
the time, is tasked with taking down a murderous North Korean pirate
(Jang Dong-kun) that has stolen U.S.-bred weapons from a tanker en
route to Asia. Along the way, Kang learns that this pirate is
also trying to locate his long-lost sister; the pirate and his
sister were separated at a young age when they initially tried to
escape the horrors of North Korea, losing their family in the
process. When Kang locates the sister (Lee Mi-yeon), he uses
her as bait to lure the pirate out of hiding...and then the
international action kicks off with a bang!
I always admire the passion that actors in
Asian films bring to the table; I almost always think that the
filmmaking in their films is middling, and that's the case again
here with "Typhoon", which has all the makings of greatness (two
stark-opposite leads that respect each other, the international
locations that range from Korean to Russia, the crisp action
sequences) but fails in its ability to smoothly integrate a
background story with the characters' personalities and their goals.
What do I mean? The backdrop of North vs. South is a realistic
one for why this pirate is so pissed off all movie long, especially
given what happened to his family...but, by having a hero that is
almost devoid of personality (more a script issue than anything
else) AND one that doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about where this
baddie is coming from, you don't feel anything as you watch the good
guy try to track the bad guy down to bring him to justice. In
fact, Kang has almost nothing to say in trying to track down the
pirate in terms of dialogue...and, you get the inexplicable "I
respect my enemy--I've got a point-blank shot--I've already tried to
kill him twice in this movie alone--let me let him survive for
another hour so we can have another stare down" moment...this is SO
This film looks like a blowout, though, in
most other ways, and as a thrill ride, "Typhoon" has many other
"The Bourne Identity" or anything Bond or even the recent
"Mission: Impossible" films, in terms of the globetrotting. I
loved the performance by Jang as the baddie...damn, he looks pissed
off, and the emotion that comes with his character's first reunion
with his sister was awesome. And, the action doesn't mess
around--people DIE in this one, with the PG-13 gods nowhere near
this puppy! "Typhoon" isn't bad, but it felt like a few simple
touches (and some help with the editing; jeez!) could have made this
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard