Contemporary crime drama-romance
2011, colour, 2.35:1, 121 mins
Directed by Lee Hyeon-seung (이현승 | 李鉉昇)
By Derek Elley
Tue, 15 November 2011, 10:45 AM (HKT)
Love story between an assassin and her older mark fatally lacks a strong directorial hand. Asian events.
Busan, South Korea, the present day. Legendary retired gangster Yun Du-hyeon (Song Gang-ho) dreams of opening a restaurant, and enrols in a cookery class, where he gets to know Jo Se-bin (Shin Se-gyeong), 20. Du-hyeon then hears that his former boss, Man-gil, has died after being hit by a car; the gang's members need to find Man-gil's will to see whom he nominated as his successor, though most of them expect it is Du-hyeon. Meanwhile, Se-bin's roommate Lee Eun-jeong (Esom) has become indebted to some Haeundae moneylenders, who force Se-bin, in return, to spy on Du-hyeon. After Eun-jeong steals a suitcase containing cocaine from the moneylenders, Se-bin is odered to kill Du-hyeon but can't bring herself to do it. Instead, Eun-jeong tries to run him over with a car and subsequently disappears. Du-hyeon survives and takes over as head of his old gang, intent on discovering who killed Man-gil. Among various problems, he has to contend with Baek Gyeong-min (Lee Jong-hyeok), an ambitious young member of the gang, and his continuing relationship with Se-bin, who is under pressure from assassination agency head Madame Gang (Yun Yeo-jeong) to kill him.
A high-profile failure at South Korea's summer box office, especially given its cast and director, Hindsight 푸른소금 (2011) is a good example of an interesting idea that just refuses to catch fire. Basically a love story between a young female assassin and her older mark, a onetime gangster trying to start a new life, it's only the fourth feature in almost 20 years by writer-director LEE Hyeon-seung 이현승 | 李鉉昇 and stars local mega-star SONG Gang-ho 송강호 | 宋康昊 in a part seemingly tailored for his special brand of scruffy charm. Stir in up-and-coming actress SHIN Se-gyeong 신세경 | 申世炅 (the daughter in Cinderella 신데렐라 (2006)); a relationship between a punky young woman and a middle-aged man that transgresses several local social codes; and a director who at least proved with Il Mare 시월애 (2000) that he can deliver an offbeat romance — and the project at least looks promising.
Song and Shin certainly give their best — especially in scenes where they just play off each other (the cookery classes, a "date" in which they watch Sunny 써니 (2011) and do karaoke, etc.) — but the dialogue is unoriginal, and later increasingly risible, making their relationship unbelievable even at a genre level. Treated more as a black comedy, the idea may have worked, but the disjunct between their "love story" and the gangster shennanigans in which it's set becomes more and more glaring — and not helped by a script that's poorly structured and, at many points, plain confusing. The lack of any strong conceptual hand at the tiller is highlighted by the quirky casting of the supporting characters: LEE Jong-hyeok 이종혁 | 李鐘赫 is fine as an ambitious young gangster but veteran actress YUN Yeo-jeong 윤여정 | 尹汝貞 (the grande dame in The Housemaid 하녀 (2010)) just looks silly as the head of an assassination agency.
Like Lee's first movie, "feminist" melodrama The Blue in You 그대안의 블루 (1992) (1992), Hindsight never looks less than fine on the widescreen, with some succulent photography by KIM Byeong-seo 김병서 | 金丙書 (Castaway on the Moon 김씨표류기 (2008)), but has the feel of an older-generation film-maker pretty much adrift in a changed industry. The Korean title means Blue Salt, which at least has some connection with the film via the finale (set in a desalination plant), unlike the meaningless English title.
ContactSales: CJ Entertainment, Seoul (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
Theatrical release: South Korea, 31 Aug 2011.
Presented by CJ Entertainment (SK). Produced by Studio Blue (SK). Executive producer: Katharine Kim. Producers: An Su-hyeon, Lee Hyeon-seung.
Script: Lee Hyeon-seung. Adaptation: Kim Byeong-seo, Yu Sang-heon, Bae Gyeong-min, Shin Su-won. Photography: Kim Byeong-seo. Editing: Kim Sang-beom, Kim Jae-beom, Yu Seung-yeop. Music: 3rd Coast. Art direction: Lee Ha-jun, Jeon Jae-uk, Oh Yu-jin. Costumes: Choi Se-yeong. Sound: Lee Byeong-ha, Seong Ji-yeong, Hong Ye-yeong. Action: Jeong Du-hong. Special effects: Kim Jeong-hun, Park Jin-yeong, Jeong Do-an, Lee Chang-man.
Cast: Song Gang-ho (Yun Du-hyeon), Shin Se-gyeong (Jo Se-bin), Cheon Jeong-myeong (Ae-kku, Du-hyeon's sidekick), Lee Jong-hyeok (Baek Gyeong-min), Kim Min-jun (K), Yun Yeo-jeong (Madame Gang), Lee Gyeong-yeong (Choi Go-mun), Kim Rwi-ha (Kim Gi-cheol), Oh Dal-su (Yuk), Esom (Lee Eun-jeong), Jang Yeong-nam (cooking school teacher), Kim Jong-gu (gang boss Du), Kim Gang-u (gang boss Kim), Jo Yeong-jin (gang boss Gi), Jo Deok-je (gang boss Ri), Choi Deok-mun (Haeundae gang boss), Yang Gi-won (his deputy), Lee Jong-pil (Yong-su), Jin Yang-hye (news announcer).