ContactSales: Lotte Entertainment, Seoul ([email protected])
Theatrical release: South Korea, 24 Nov 2011.
Presented by Lotte Entertainment (SK), Cinergy (SK). Produced by Watermelon Pictures (SK). Executive producers: Son Gwang-ik, Kim Won-guk. Producers: Shin Beom-su, Jeong Seong-hua.
Script: Kim Yu-jin, Hwang Seong-gu. Photography: Gang Seung-gi. Editing: Mun In-dae. Music: Kim Tae-seong, No Hyeong-u. Art direction: Lee Tae-hun. Costumes: Kim Na-hyeong. Sound: Gang Ju-seok. Action: Lee Hong-pyo. Special effects: Kim Gwang-su. Visual effects: Im Jin-u, Jang Yeong-su (Atom VFX Studio).
Cast: Eom Tae-ung (Inspector Kim Seong-beom), Ju Won (Dr. Kim Ho-ryong), Jeong Jin-yeong (Police Chief Hwang Du-su), Seong Dong-il (Captain Park In-mu), Lee Tae-im (Inspector Jeong Yeong-sun), Kim Jeong-tae (Inspector Park Gyeong-shik), Kim Yeong-jae (Sergeant Jo Su-han), Lee Hui-jun (Lee Geun-su), Jeong Man-shik (Jun-seok), Jo Jae-yun (Gecko), Jeon Sang-jin (Captain Jang, team leader), Yu Seung-mok (Yun Il-do), Kim Min-jae (Sergeant Lee Jae-wi), Ban Min-jeong (Go Su-jin), Yeom Dong-heon (Ju Ho-yeong, provincial politician), Im Chae-seon (Thalay, Thai gangster), Kim Tae-hui (Big Ong-bak, his associate), Eom Tae-gu (Skinny Ong-bak, his associate), Jang Yong-cheol (Kim Jin-hwan), Han Guk-jin, Shin Seong-hun, Kim Gyu-hwan, Gu Chang-mo, Choi U-hyeong, Seo Seung-in, Lee Gyeong-heon, Shin Sam-bong, Kim Hun-ho, Im Jae-min, Kim Jwa-hyeong (detectives).
Contemporary crime thriller
2011, colour, 2.35:1, 109 mins
Directed by Hwang Byung-guk (황병국)
By Derek Elley
Sat, 25 August 2012, 20:25 PM (HKT)
Cracking crime thriller is consistently involving, with a strong cast, script and basic craft. Asian and genre events.
Seoul, the present day. When police detective Kim Seong-beom (Eom Tae-ung) and rookie Jeong Yeong-sun (Lee Tae-im) almost lose a suspect they are chasing, they're helped by a passing colleague, sergeant Lee Jae-wi (Kim Min-jae), who's on another case. That same night Jae-wi is murdered in an abandoned warehouse and methamphetamine powder scattered by his body. A Special Investigation Unit is set up by police chief Hwang Du-su (Jeong Jin-yeong), who brings in a young FBI-trained criminal profiler, Kim Ho-ryong (Ju Won), to co-ordinate the case, much to the dislike of veteran Seong-beom. Via Seong-beom's informant Gecko (Jo Jae-yun) and some Thai drug-runners, the murder trail leads to a woman, Go Su-jin (Ban Min-jeong), who works at a hostess bar run by Yun Il-do (Yu Seung-mok). However, thanks to a tip-off she escapes when Seong-beom raids the place. Il-do and Su-jin are subsequently killed by a corrupt cop, Park Yeong-shik (Kim Jeong-tae), who had been receiving money from Il-do and had killed Jae-wi when he found out. With the death toll rising, Hwang orders the SIU to kill Yeong-shik on sight, but he proves elusive. Meanwhile, Seong-beom discovers evidence that could link his immediate superior and longtime colleague Park In-mu (Seong Dong-il) to Yeong-shik. As the hunt for Yeong-shik continues, Ho-ryong reveals the reason he volunteered to join the SIU. After two more deaths, the case is officially closed and the SIU shut down; but then Seong-beom discovers evidence that points to a much greater conspiracy.
Though there's hardly anything original in its content, S.I.U. 특・수・본 (2011) is a cracking example of the South Korean crime thriller at its best, with a well-constructed script, sharply etched characters, a strong cast, and more plot and action than similar films half an hour longer. Tight cutting by experienced editor MUN In-dae 문인대, mobile camerawork by d.p. GANG Seung-gi 강승기 (Maundy Thursday 우리들의 행복한 시간 (2006), Blood Pledge 여고괴담 ５ (2009)) and a no-nonsense approach by director HWANG Byung-guk 황병국 — in only his second feature, after oldies comedy Wedding Campaign 나의 결혼원정기 (2005) — add up to a consistently involving crime thriller with a few nice touches.
The script by newcomer KIM Yu-jin 김유진 and the more experienced HWANG Seong-gu 황성구 bears many of the trademarks that Hwang brought to his subsequent crime comedy-drama The Scent 간기남 간통을 기다리는 남자 (2012) — a number of characters kept on the boil, complex plotting that actually makes sense, and small offbeat touches. S.I.U. is essentially more formulaic, with a high-level corruption story that isn't hard to guess in the second half, but the dialogue is equally flavoursome and the way in which characters move from the background to the foreground throughout the running-time is similar. With a much larger cast, this is sometimes hit-and-miss: the emergence of SEONG Dong-il 성동일 | 成東鎰's police captain into a major figure is beautifully handled, as is that of JEONG Jin-yeong 정진영 | 鄭鎭榮's police chief, but actressLEE Tae-im 이태임 | 李泰林's rookie detective, after being strongly introduced in the opening sequence, isn't sustained enough after that before being vaulted into the foreground in the second half.
Despite that, there's a large number of succinctly drawn roles, each of which get at least several moments of their own. Jeong (King and the Clown 왕의 남자 (2005)) oozes a quiet authority as the police chief and has a terrific put-down of a sleazy politician (played by YEOM Dong-heon 염동헌) early on; the gruff Seong emerges as the best-drawn of the lot, a veteran cop whose true loyalty is one of the film's riddles; and character actor JO Jae-yun 조재윤's flamboyant informant plays off well against the detectives.
Holding the whole thing together, though, is the lead performance of EOM Tae-ung 엄태웅 | 嚴泰雄 (Cyrano Agency 시라노; 연애조작단 (2010), Architecture 101 건축학개론 (2012)), one of South Korea's few actors who can blend charm and toughness without descending into macho attitude. His maverick, headstrong cop is completely believable in its flaws and even manages to create some odd-couple chemistry with his younger co-lead, JU Won 주원 | 朱元, a popular musical actor and TV drama star (Ojakgyo Family 오작교 형제들, 2011) making his big-screen debut. In a down-and-dirty movie like this, the metrosexual-looking Ju is a risky piece of casting as a bouffant-haired criminal profiler but, although the script doesn't showcase his professional skills much, the lynx-eyed Ju has a strong screen presence — much more than in his subsequent movie, the so-so horror movie Don't Click 미확인 동영상 (2012).
S.I.U. is a movie that gets the job done without any directorial self-importance. It may lack really flashy big moments — though the finale, set during a public demo against property developers is a neat touch — but has basic craft qualities that some South Korean film-makers could learn from.