Jin Hyun Pil runs ‘One Network Inc.’, a company with an extensive network covering Korea. The chief of the Intellectual Crime Investigation team, Kim Jae Myung, suspects One Network’s involvement in a fraud case of unprecedented scale.
Kim tracks down the company’s IT architect and brain, Park Jang Gun, and attempts to persuade Park to hand over Jin’s secret ledger in exchange for a plea bargain. Feeling the police close in on him, Jin moves operations out of Korea. Kim nonetheless continues his investigation into Jin. 6 months later, news about Jin’s death stirs the country once again.
(Source: CJ Entertainment)
Cast & Credits
Maybe those are clouded my judgement.
But I admit, Master is not a perfect film. It certainly helps if you love the actors you are seeing on screen.
Cold Eyes (2013) director, Ui-seok Jo makes the style of Master, a reminiscent of his 2013 hit. Fast-paced, suspense and action-filled. I did enjoy Master a little bit more though, I felt like it has more substance, however questionable it may be.
Lee Byung Hun plays the bad guy (not a first), the CEO of a big company, One Network who is scamming their customers and is involved in fraud cases among others. Kim Woo Bin plays the section chief of communications/technology, a tech-whiz of some sort and Kang Dong Won plays the head of the investigating team. The three have good chemistry—each a talented actor on their own.
No doubt Lee has an actor. My first time to see Kang (and quiet guy during the premiere as well) and crime/action films are not new to him. Kim, this is probably his best role (for me) to date. Though, better characterization would work—given that we have 3 contrasting characters. But I think Ui suffers from that problem regardless.
Kudos though for showing us two badass female characters, played by Uhm Ji-won and Jin Kyung, though they deserve more screen time. And justice for Jin's character.
Master is messy. It starts strong—intriguing even, leading us on, much like Cold Eyes' exposition. But ultimately, things start to get a little bit out-of-place. There is little backbone or sense in how things escalated. They either seem ridiculous or just not how it's supposed to go.
Ui tries to back it up with comic relief which Kim does well and contrasts with Kang's serious demeanour. Lee does it well too.
Yu Eok does well with the cinematography, contrasting Seoul's tall buildings to the Philippines' tropical and cramped houses. Though as a Filipino, it's still a bit disappointing that Tondo (one of the largest squatter areas and poorest is the one chosen to showcase including the poor environment and such, there is so much more to show than that but okay).
Action-wise, it's more intense than Cold Eyes but the latter has better suspense and build-up though the former tried to throw a plot twist that seems wow at first but ridiculous the next...due to the lack of a backbone.
It's not the "exotic" place that would save Master. It's the cast. It's the reason that, despite all its flaws, that I ultimately still enjoyed this.
Lee Byung-hun, Kim Woo-bin and Kang Dong-won rule the screen with their act. But it's Lee Byung-hun who impresses yet again after his brilliant INSIDE MEN. The editing is fine but could have been better. The film could have been shorter, though it has the action sequences placed accordingly. Visuals & cinematography are eye- catching. Story and screenplay both are well-woven, but a little tighter writing would have made the film better in the first hour. Anyhow, the film keeps you hooked for the most part because it offers plenty of entertainment.
Overall, MASTER is a well made action thriller that deserves to be watched if you like action thrillers with clean entertainment. No vulgarity at all. Check it out today, or wait for the Blu-ray, if it shows any chance of releasing. I'll soon watch it again some day, but with proper subtitles.