Double Agent [이중간첩]
Han Suk Gyu, Go So Young
»Engrossing, exciting spy thriller marking the return of two big stars.
Han Suk Gyu’s last movie appearance was Tell Me Something, a beautiful pastiche of film noir with a rather European style, complemented by great art direction and musical choices. Go So young, other than being the busiest CF model in Korea, last appeared in A Day with Lee Sung Jae, a nice melodrama about a couple who can’t have children. Their return to the big screen was long awaited, and Double Agent seemed to have all the ingredients to make it big. With a strong story, the hot topic of the North/South relationship, and a top cast, Double Agent did well (although not extremely so) at the box office, and it’s likely to become even more acclaimed now that it has hit the DVD shores.
HSG is Lim Byung Ho (the North Korean 림, not the 임 used in the South and often -wrongly- romanized as Lim), an agent from North Korea who, through Germany, comes to the South in search of freedom. That’s the big trick, because he’s really a spy from the North trying to tie up some loose ends in the South, after the death of one of their more important agents. Once there, Lim’s allegiances seem to slowly switch, but not towards the South. He seems to get tired of the whole division altogether. His relationship with Go So Young, away from their professional dealings (GSY is, too, a spy), finally makes him comfortable. But escaping from this world is not as easy as he thought.
Wow…what an awesome political thriller! It’s been a while since the last one (mmmhhh…JSA?). This, in contrast with Park Chan-wook’s masterpiece, is much darker and more politically involved. We get a glimpse of how difficult the relationship between North and South was, and how it was all connected to the last remnants of the Cold War (the capitalism vs communism war also tied to East Germany/West Germany and more, very effectively displayed in the film).
It all sounds familiar, but it’s handled respectively and without becoming corny (think the last part of 2009 Lost Memories or some segments of KT).
This is not an action film per se, there aren’t many setpieces, except from the impressive Checkpoint Charlie opening, followed by the many methods of torture HSG has to go through. One good thing Double Agent does, though, is always keep you on your toes. Nothing really seems what it appeared at first, up to the fabulous ending. It’s nothing new, but I was still comfortably pleased at the end. Going out with a bang like that (ouch….) is the best way to end a thriller like Double Agent.
(Han Suk Gyu)
We waited a long 3 years to see him again, but it was worth it. He’s his usual stoic self, but this time it fits tremendously well with this character.
I thought the stuff on the trailer was a joke, but they did it! Integrating old footage from a North Korean march, seamlessly adding Han to the montage. It looked mighty impressive! And the Checkpoint Charlie scene is vintage spy thriller stuff.
(Attention to Detail)
Weapons, Clothes, Cars…they’re all small things, but they add to the film at the end. You might not notice them, but all this is important.
Michael Staudacher writes what is probably the best score of the year. Drawing from his own experience of a divided country (Germany), this is very much a score rooted in the tradition of the genre. It’s probably for that reason that it works so well.
I promise not to spoil anymore of it. But it’s good. Very good. Believe me.
(Go So Young)
She’s pretty and all, and I liked some of her movies back then when…
This ain’t a melodrama, or a TV Drama. She was as miscast as Kim Hee Sun would be as a Gangster. First, she’s too big a star to play a role like this. They should have used an up and coming actress with a distinctive look, so that people would remember her face. She just goes into lethargic mode once the relationship kicks in and the….movie…starts….dragging….sloo….ooo….w.
It’s all handled tremendously well. But it’s a little too familiar. I saw the end coming a mile away, and while it’s awesome and all, big fans of the genre looking for something original will probably be disappointed.
Ajumma+Canned Food+Blood=Uhhhhhhhh. Jesus, get a crowbar or something.
OVERALL: One of the most underrated films of the year. A little complex on the political side, although the story is quite easy to follow in terms of development. HSG does a great job, GSY is only decent.