Far East Film Festival 20

Udine Italy April 20th/ April 28th 2018
The Film Festival For Popular Asian Cinema
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
Saturday, April 29, time 10.10

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Confidential Assignment

A heist in North Korea forms the starting point for this action comedy blockbuster that took the box office by storm in early 2017. Army captain Lim Cheol-ryeong (Hyun Bin, Late Autumn) is posted at a secret factory set up by the North Korean government to print high-quality counterfeit $100 bills. But he is taken by surprise when his former commanding officer Cha (Kim Ju-hyeok, Yourself and Yours), shoots his way into the building with a crowd of henchmen, and steals the printing plates for himself. Cheol-ryeong barely makes it out alive, but his wife is not so lucky.

Some time later Cha has escaped to South Korea with the plates, and is negotiating to sell them. The North Korean government, meanwhile, decides to send Cheol-ryeong to South Korea as a member of an official government delegation. His mission is to steal back the plates in any way possible, but to keep their existence a secret, so as not to expose the North’s counterfeit operations. Further complicating matters is that he is to be officially partnered with a South Korean detective in his hunt for Cha. The South Korean government knows that Cha has entered their country, but they aren’t yet aware how serious a criminal he is, and they don’t know anything about the plates.
That may be the reason why a zealous but clumsy detective like Gang Jin-tae (Yoo Hai-jin, Fatal Intuition) ends up as Lim’s partner. The two men form an instant paradox – Cheol-ryeong’s stern professionalism, which conceals both grave secrets and painful personal memories, clashes in every way with Jin-tae’s unfocused, chatty banter. Jin-tae too has been quietly asked to wiretap his partner and find out his true mission, so it’s more than just a contrast of personalities keeping them apart. But the danger that lies ahead will push them into an unlikely bond.

Confidential Assignment is capably directed by second-time director Kim Sung-hoon, who has experience in shooting high-profile advertisements as well as the musical drama A Wonderful Moment (2013). But one can’t help also noticing the fingerprints of producer JK Youn, who has become one of the industry’s most powerful figures thanks to his output as a director (Ode to My Father, Haeundae, Sex Is Zero) and as head of production house JK Films. One of Youn’s strengths is that he understands instinctively how to package a film for the South Korean audience. Confidential Assignment contains massive star power in Hyun Bin, plenty of comedy, and ambitiously-staged action set pieces. It’s particularly in the scenes with Jin-tae’s family members, with their spectrum of different personalities, that the film wins over its audience’s good humor.

Although slickly produced and constantly entertaining, in the end Confidential Assignment does end up being pretty forgettable. It attempts nothing new, shies away from saying anything of substance about the relationship between North and South Korea, and in its effort to please, goes on for much longer than it needed to (a problem with many contemporary Korean films). Still, it’s never boring and often quite fun. Backed by the distribution power of its main investor CJ Entertainment, the film fought off strong competition and ended up recording a massive 7.8 million admissions – tops in the first quarter of 2017. In more ways than one, Confidential Assignment represents the straightest path to box office success in today’s Korean market.  

Darcy Paquet
Film director: 
Kim Sung-hoon
Year: 
2017
Running time: 
125

Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnd1xEoLQBA

Photogallery

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