• Yong-eui-ja / The Suspect (2013) - Well-executed and twisted spy movie with a little lack of originality - 8/10 (02/11/14)

    Yong-Eui-Ja / The Suspect (2013)

    ''The Suspect'' is a South Korean action-thriller in the vein of several contemporary spy movies like ''The Berlin File''. The movie tells the story of a North Korean defector who has once been a top special forces agent. After years of loyal service to his country, he became the victim of a conspiracy and purge. While the defector was able to make it to South Korea, his wife and young daughter were killed. Filled with grief and anger, the defector is now working as a chauffeur for a warm-hearted chairman who wants to help the North Korean people by developing a chemical product that could improve agriculture and prevent future famines. One day before a crucial meeting in North Korea, the chairman gets assassinated by some obscure members of the South Korean intelligence service. The defector witnesses the crime and fights the assassins but he can't save his boss. The dying chairman though gives him his glasses which hide the formula for the chemical product. The defector gets now hunted by the South Korean intelligence service who accuse him for the murder of the chairman and want to get the formula. The manhunt is led by a tough colonel who wants to eliminate the defector at all costs but who soon realizes that his boss is hiding a sinister secret and that things are more complicated than they appear. With the help of an ambitious journalist, the defector wants to uncover the secret of the chairman's glasses, clear his name and fight the true murderers and also find the man who killed his family.

    On the positive side of the movie, one gets a twisted and tension-filled story line. The movie is gripping and entertaining and never gets boring despite a running time of almost two hours and a half. The acting is solid and especially the defector, the colonel and the main villain are portrayed in authentic ways. The movie has some character development and spends enough time to add some depth by telling a few side-stories in form of flashbacks. The action scenes in the movie are of the highest quality and at least as good as similar contemporary Hollywood movies. One gets to see agile and yet brutal martial arts fighting scenes, brutal shootings and breathtaking car chases. Some of these scenes are unrealistic and over the top but they are definitely fun to watch. Despite all the action and brutality, the movies manages to keep a human core and comes around with a moving ending.

    On the negative side, I must admit that this movie obviously picks up several ideas from past South Korean but also international spy flicks. The story line of the movie is not really original and several parts of the film are in fact quite predictable for genre fans. The script could have been more innovative in my opinion.

     

    Despite this obvious flaw, genre fans should still watch this movie as it's among the better South Korean spy movies of the last years. It easily beats ''The Berlin File'' and is probably on one level with movies like ''New World'' but obviously less groundbreaking than ''Shiri''. For international fans, you will probably appreciate this movie if you liked the films of the Bourne franchise.

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