Drum roll please, everyone! I’m excited to announce the first guest post on this blog!! Wheee!! :D
A number of you would already be familiar with Lady G, who’s an unnie on this blog. She is always such a pleasure to chat with, and always has such interesting and insightful thoughts to share that I always look forward to her comments.
When it was announced that The Suspect was premiering in New York, we all squealed out loud in envy over at our GY Running Man Squee Fest Facebook group (yes, the squee-fest is over, but the squeeing has happily continued, heh), coz this meant that Lady G would get to see this movie on the big screen. We – pretty much in unison, really – commissioned Lady G to tell us alllll about her experience of watching Gong Yoo in his first action role on the big screen.
Being the awesome gal that she is, Lady G didn’t just come back with lots of incoherent spazzes and gushes, though we wouldn’t have blamed her if she did. I mean, it’s Gong Yoo on the big screen after all. Heh.
Nuh-uh. Instead, she wrote a whole review of the movie, and here it is!
Take it away, Lady G!
Hey all! This is LadyG. I want to thank kfangurl for allowing me to be a guest blogger and give my two cents on Gong Yoo’s international smash action film, “The Suspect.” This is not a summary of the film, there are plenty of those to be found now on the web.
The cinematography is cold and blue toned-there’s no warmth here, expect maybe in a dreamy/hazy flashback with Gong Yoo in the background while his 14 year-old looking wife hangs laundry. Some critics/reviews complained that the camera work was headache inducing. But I think that was over-stated. It’s not shaky-cam, but there are a lot of cuts back and forth. Particularly with the action sequences. I guess when you need to read subtitles and watch the action at the same time it can bring on a headache. But I was fine with it after a few minutes.
Violence quota: This is a revenge action movie. There was violence, as much as a Hollywood film. I don’t know which has more, I rarely watch movies of that kind. Some Korean films tend to be brutal. But I expected as much. The violence in “The Suspect” was not just random shoot-em-ups and body counts like a lot of American films. Every act, no matter how much I personally cringed and shut my eyes, had its purpose to forward the plot.
Language: Korean. haha. But I mean foul language. I’m writing this warning for viewers like me, that don’t appreciate it and may want to know how much is in the movie. Again, it’s like Hollywood standard. The more I learn the Korean language, the more I don’t trust English subtitles. The have a habit of adding more hard core curses than is actually spoken in Korean. Also, I’m learning that the subtitling often simplifies what the character is really saying. I suppose the subbers felt that given the mood of the character or the way a line was spoken, a big curse would substitute just fine. The English flashback scene in the film is all of 2-4 minutes when GY’s character is in Puerto Rico. Gong Yoo doesn’t speak, but there’s plenty of big bad English cussing. I hate cursing no matter what, so it was annoying to read it/hear it, But ottoke? I put on my big girl panties and dealt with it.
Gong Yoo is tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome as the suspect, Ji Dong Chul. And that’s just standing there without trying to be. He’s no poser. You believe this is a man of few words and all action. Gong Yoo was so tanned in some scenes, you’d think he was mixed with Spanish, Indian, Filipino, or any dark-skinned culture. It created a rugged appearance that fit in with his strenuous, I mean STRENUOUS, past. Dong Chul went through horrific training in the North Korean army to come out as one of the best spies in the world. He was later tortured in barbaric ways and managed to escape. (No real spoilers there; if he didn’t, there would be no movie!)
The tan made him stand out against the stark grey and blue palette at times. Let’s face it, the man was shake-and-baked, fried to a crisp, sauteed ala mode!
His body and abs were ripped beyond ripped. A truly silent but deadly and efficient North Korean spy defector that could kill you with a glance.
Dong Chul is disengaged from society, and constantly watched by the Government because he is a known defector. He lives in run-down shack and speaks to no one. Inside his wall is plastered with maps, photos and lists – his plan of revenge. When you see him in action he moves with an efficiency that can be compared to a robot. This man was trained to be a terminator. But his tormented eyes reveal his humanity, he is a grieving husband and father. A human being.
You wouldn’t want to meet Dong Chul in a dark alley.
I’ve said it in my blog comments before. Gong Yoo looks like a gorgeous cat. Yes, a cat. Even more so in this movie. And I found myself giggling about it. His moves and stunts were powerful and reminded me of a panther. I’m strange, I know. I used a picture for emphasis.
Gong Yoo probably had no more than 15 lines in the whole 2 hours and 17 minutes. But he conveyed every emotion through those beautiful and piercing big eyes – vengeance, pity, sadness, anger, and he mastered the stoic poker face. His stunts and all the fighting/martial arts sequences were amazingly choreographed. You can tell he pushed himself to the limit. Whatever the limit is that allows actors to perform their own stunts.
I really like actor Park Hee Soon. He nearly stole the entire movie as hard-nosed, cynical, but eventually sympathetic soldier/agent, Min Se Hoon. The introduction to his character on the army plane is not to be missed. Se Hoon is hot on Ji Dong Chul’s trail. (And looking hot while doing it too!) Se Hoon had a run-in with Ji Dong Chul in the past, made it out alive, and is used by shady law enforcement to hunt him down again. On a side note, the technology in this film is really modern and effective. And I was reminded of the great show and movie “The Fugitive” in the way he relentlessly hunted Dong Chul.
Se Hoon had all the best lines and comebacks. He may have been the most fully developed character because of that. He was aided along by the only comic relief character, Captain Jo, played by Jo Jae Yun. An obnoxious, but intelligent and loyal, gum-chewing soldier.
Actor Kim Sung Kyun also gives a strong and chilling performance as a hitman/spy being stalked by Ji Dong Chul. Fans will immediately recognize him from the recent hit drama “Answer me, 1994” as the straight-laced/stuffy 19 year-old who looks 40.
It’s hard to say much about the plot without giving away major twists or the ending. Basically Dong Chul is framed for the murder of a scientist with a secret formula that the North Koreans would kill for. He is given the formula and told to “bury it” then goes on the run. But Dong Chul is also out for vengeance to find the man who killed his wife and daughter. Be prepared for major edge-of-your-seat action and some of the absolute best car chase scenes ever made.
Evidence of a fantastic car chase! The way they were able to weave through the mazes and stairwells of the Korean neighborhoods was absolutely astounding.
As an action movie, “The Suspect” rivals Hollywood films, and in my opinion is even better. But of course it adds that unique Korean flair. There’s a heart underneath the madness. It doesn’t bog you down with sentimentality and ham-over acting as many Korean films do. Except for the big villain’s obviously ‘evil laugh’ near the end. Muwhwahaha!
This is a pure revenge flick. There are no real goody-goody heroes. Everyone is an anti-hero and has their own morally grey agenda given their profession or lot in life. But they all somehow come together for a greater good – or bad. They do what they have to do.
K-Drama fans: DO NOT expect any type of cutesy romance or sweet gestures and antics from our beloved Gong Yoo. The only active female in this movie is an investigative reporter played by Yoo Da In. She helps Gong Yoo hide-out and manages to expose all the lies and secrets around him. There’s a mutual respect between them, but no love or even hinted chemistry. With all the craziness, there’s simply no time for it. I think the writers were smart to avoid a romance factor. It would have belittled Dong Chul’s mission of revenge and love for his lost wife and child. Dong Chul is a man dead to the world, taking his grief to the max. But he still has a heart underneath his stony exterior and that is made clear in a few scenes. But If you were ever in immediate danger, you would want him on your side and running to your rescue. Don’t miss that scene!
Despite the long length, you never feel bored. When the action slows down briefly, there’s still the element of intrigue to keep you on your toes.
The most memorable things about this film are the intense and wild car chases (I guess they don’t have air bags in Korea? Haha!) Park Hee Soon’s performance is award worthy, and the haunted expressions on Gong Yoo’s face will stay with you for a long time to come. (Okay, okay, and those abs.)
A face that has seen the worst of humanity and is full of anger and some regret for taking part in it.
It’s not a deep or profound film, but a great popcorn flick. Regardless, Gong Yoo is such a huge talent. Because his character was so darn quiet, I fancied him in a silent twenties film with pale make-up, exaggerated eyes, and wild gestures. He’d be absolutely perfect for it.
Something like this:
(That’s Sessue Hayakawa, a popular Japanese Silent film star in America. It’s a shame a lot of those films got lost or rotted away from improper handling or studio fires. I like Silent movies and would love to watch ones with real Asian stars. Not white actors with taped eyes.)
I’m not surprised that Gong Yoo’s International fan base is so huge that this movie made it to New York City. I remember reading the comments by Spanish fans salivating because he went to Puerto Rico in the summer of 2013 to film. He is now a certified action star. I can imagine the action movie scripts are rolling to his doorstep now. I would rather he do another TV drama, even if it’s action, or an action-packed Sageuk like “Chuno.” He would be fantastic!
Gong Yoo is hard to pin-down or typecast because he is constantly re-inventing himself. From jerks in his earliest films, to adorable rom-com leading men, to subtle, yet powerful dramatic actor/accidental activist in “Silenced/The Crucible,” and now a rough and sexy action star.
I can’t wait to see what he does next! Gong Yoo…Fighting!
FINAL GRADE: B
*From the VIP Premiere of “The Suspect.”