Dong Chul was the best special field agent in North Korea, but he’s abandoned by his government during a mission. While on the run, he looks for his wife and child, who were sold as slaves to China, only to discover their corpses. He soon finds out that his colleague was behind the killing and defects to the South in search of his nemesis. He looks for him during the day, and works as a temp driver at night and as a personal driver for chairman Park. One night the chairman is attacked and killed by an assassin, but not before handing over a pair of glasses to Dong Chul. He is now on the run again, accused of the chairman’s murder by the intelligence service, while trying to uncover the secret contained inside the glasses.
Cast & Credits
Following the usual espionage formula with spies, vengeance, betrayal and secrets; this film managed to stay intense for a very long time. It was fast-paced and too packed that it doesn’t allow you to blink an eye. Heck, it was even hard to follow subtitles. Many characters and events were thrown in an immense amount which felt quite entertaining and eye-catching. The car chase scenes were absolutely one of the better car scenes I’ve ever seen. Moreover, the violence, the bloody killings and many hand-to-hand combats were highly involving.
This film’s main issue was its over-length. For an action-thriller that problem can be a killer, The Suspect obviously fell prey to the usual Asian films’ shortcoming: The screenwriting is frequently unable to handle the running time making it incoherent with plot elements. If this film was 30 or even 20 minutes shorter then things would’ve been absolutely better. The second half was so slow which disabled the fast-paced impact of the first half to persist. It was unavoidable that some explanations would be inserted, like the main character’s background and reasons for vengeance but that drama was clearly overdone. It practically killed the action suspense mood so when it finally came back on track near the end, it was already too late for the viewer to go back to that high paced mood.
It was unfortunate because this film could’ve been a remarkable Action thriller if the screenwriter knew how to divide his narration approach and flashbacks on a 2 hours 20 minutes scale. It felt like he was working on a 2 hours version of this film. However, it’s appreciated that he didn’t try to turn this into an intelligence fight with his viewers. The plot wasn’t any complicated because it focused on action sequences and violence instead. I wouldn’t call it gory violence though; I mean that’s the right amount of blood splashing in Korean action thrillers.
The acting was good enough, Gong Yoo’s commitment to his role showed through his character’s movements. The martial arts sequences showed a nice side of him, his character was well written to fit a dark super spy. On the other hand, Park Hee Soon amazed me once again. Although his character wasn’t as important and as penetrating as Gong Yoo’s character but he was very convincing in showing the traits of his hot-blooded personality.
Other characters did well, even if their developments were plain obvious. At least they contributed in the coherence of the packed events.
The cinematography is your standard current-days Korean thrillers’ style. Occasionally, I feel like the same guy is doing the cinematography in all recent Korean thrillers, with some exceptions of course. Although the direction can be marked as decent but the camerawork bothered me in many takes, sometimes it doesn’t allow you to know what’s happening on screen.
-You like Korean action thrillers.
-You like intense films but beware of the events slowing down.
-You like spy films.
Do not watch if:
-You’re looking for a masterpiece out of the action thriller genre.
-You dislike action thrillers.
The Suspect is nothing more than an alright Korean action thriller. But being influenced by the intense high-paced first half, I came to appreciate this film for its entertainment values.