Friday, July 11, 2008

Typhoon: A Review

Finally, I get around to it, huh? ;-D

So, the film centers around (no surprise) the North-South situation in Korea. Directed by Kwak Kyung-Taek, and featuring Lee Jung-Jae and the famous Jang Dong-Gun (of Tae Guk Gi fame), I found it to be a movie that was really enjoyable. It wasn't absolutely fantastic, but I would like to own it sooner or later.

If anyone saw Kang Je-Gyu's famous film Shiri (Kang also directed Tae Guk Gi), they can probably attest to the fact that they were lost for a lot of the movie. It was a great movie, but was difficult to follow a bit. Well, Typhoon was the same in this regard, but at least we weren't confused with two partners who looked practically like twins (as in Shiri). The confusion came from a mixture of things; quick editing (similar to Batman Begins, I would say), etc. I'm always inclined to say that it's the cultural barrier that can contribute to this sort of thing as well. It also doesn't help when some of the characters speak English (particularly one) and there are no subtitles (the US release has only subtitles, and was not dubbed) on the screen when he's talking. He's hard to understand! ;-D I did find that on the third time I watched it, I was still catching little nuances of the plot and so forth, so I'd recommend watching it at least twice to fully appreciate it. It's one of those kinds of movies.

So how's the eye candy? Okay, not too bad. It's more of a story than anything else (it's another emotional ripper, similar to Tae Guk Gi but at least not nearly as sad), but we do get treated to a car chase scene (WAAAAAY too short people!), some good Navy Seal-esqueness, and a really nice knife fight at the end of the film. (I won't spoil anything, but do yourself a favor and watch this fight closely; that's about the most interesting way I've ever seen anybody get stabbed in a movie, hands-down! Spectacular.)

Also of interest is the international nature of the film. We get lots of international intrigue, and we are transported several different countries. Also of interest is some Russian stuff thrown in, very fitting and it adds to the nature of the plot convincingly.

The acting was just fine in my opinion. Perhaps not the most moving performances ever, but Jang again does a fine job (particularly in one Tae Guk Gi-esque tear-jerking scene). One might say he didn't do as well as he did in Tae Guk Gi, but I'd attribute that more to the fact that he didn't have as big an oppurtunity in this film. In Tae Guk Gi, he drove the film. In this one, he's the only thing keeping the story afloat, yes, but there are other themes that drive it as well. I do have to admit that Sin's character is the primary vessel in Typhoon, and we see the man convincingly driven by pain, hate, and anger (expect no plot spoilers from me on that one!). It was similar to the job he did in 2009: Lost Memories. Nothing to complain about!

Morality. Well, the "hero" of the story, Korean officer Kang Sejong, is a pretty good guy. The "bad guy" in the film, a pirate originally from North Korea called "Sin" (played by Jang Dong-Gun), is not a good guy!

In the end, we are shown why Sin is such an evil monster. His childhood was filled with terrors that no boy should have to go through. Still, that is no excuse, and the film also takes that stance (Kang says something to that very effect at one point).

But, we do get to a point where the hero, Kang, is beginning to feel for Sin. At one point in a letter to his mother he says that he would like to have Sin as a friend, if things had turned out differently. Still, kudos to Kang for carrying out his duty and fulfiling his mission.

Towards the end of the film we're given clear indications of the growing feelings of brotherhood between these two men. Sin at one point cries out, "You know what's so f***** up about this? We understand each other!" The one issue I had with this was at the very end of movie, when Kang says that Sin's desire was only to be remembered. This was completely out of place for the film I thought; watch it and you'll see what I mean (basically, Sin's no ordinary pirate, he's a pirate with a plan, and that plan would fit well into a grand James Bond film).

Some other points of moral interest would be:

1) To fulfill his mission and track down Sin, Kang aggressively carjacks another baddie with knowledge of Sin's whereabouts, shooting the two men inside without giving them a chance to even blink. To get the necessary information out of him, Kang shoots him in the leg.

2) [Warning: SPOILERS!]
To get Sin to come out into the open, the South Korean agents (Kang is obviously one of them) get Sin's sister, and, basically, kidnap her. Long story short and without giving too much away she is unaware of her own kidnapping (through trickery they succeed in makinge her believe that something else is occuring) until a little while later. However, Kang treats her with respect and takes care of her, and even seems to feel sorry for her (there's a good reason for that, too). At one point it the South Korean agents are given orders. The viewer never fully learns these orders, but we do know that Kang objects to them, as they deal with Sin's sister. {At this point Sin had already turned himself in and is with his sister, both under the Southern agents' custody.}

After getting these orders, the agents come in and try to separate Sin from his sister (one agent racks his pistol, making his intent clear). Naturally Sin fights, although his sister is shot in the ensuing firefight. (This is why I say the orders are never fully known: was Sin's sister to be killed as well, or was it an accident? The scene itself makes this unclear as well.) However, Kang has nothing to do with this. More kudos to him in that he also doesn't switch sides like so many movies and start fighting his former comrades.

Oh, and a last comment on the movie's morality is that the film is deliciously sex-less. :-D No fast-forwarding is needed here--unless of course you have extreme difficulty seeing lead, cold steel, or angry North Korean pirates.

Sin professes a belief in a form of afterlife (where they go to meet those already dead), as does another villain, who dies singing a song about going to a "temple" to wash his "sins away". Also, for those who have trouble with violence, this film is overall pretty easy (which makes me think the R rating came more than just the violence), but there is one scene where a man is stabbed to death, and while not very bloody, the man's muffled cries are pitiful.

All in all, a very good film. Full of intrique and plot twists, a definite thinker, and with some good action. A good Navy Seal fight at the end, and the knife fight, while not nearly as well choregraphed as fights in films such as Batman Begins or The Bourne Identity, is a great scene. And the score, while not overly fantastic, has some really nice recurring elements in it that I fully enjoyed.

The best line in the movie, without a doubt, was Sin's. "If anything happens to my sister...I'll cut your throat."

**** Stars!

So...go see it!

Spencer / Dr. Paleo Ph.D.


olde.fashioned said...

I do so love your movie reviews!! ;-D I wish you would write more of them. :-)

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Well...gimme good movies to review, and I shall review them. :-P

olde.fashioned said...

Well...gimme good movies to review, and I shall review them. :-P

*sputters* DVD shelf is FULL of good movies!! 8-/

How about Lorna Doone? Or Batman Begins! ;-D Surely you cannot refuse to review that one. HEE

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

*sputters* DVD shelf is FULL of good movies!! 8-/

Oh really? *yawns* I hadn't noticed!

But I prefer to do movies I've just seen, not digging up movies I first saw a long time ago.


olde.fashioned said...

Well I guess we need to watch Lorna again, then, eh?? ;-P

I KNOW!!! How about Cranford? You haven't watched that yet!!! 8-D

Stephen Boyd said...

Spencer: Great review! I'll have to see if I can find it.

Lauren: You really should get him to do a so-called "girl" movie. Guy movies are fun, but they are WAY to intense. I like to watch "girl" movies when I'm trying to relax.

(ok, girl movies can be rather intense sometimes.....)

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Hey, Stephen! What...what happened? I thought you had my back!

Stephen Boyd said...

I do have your back....but truth is truth!!!!

olde.fashioned said...

Stephen: Well, actually he kinda sorta did do a girly movie review -- PotO. ;-D (*ducks flying tomatoes from Nathan for calling it a girl movie*) But maybe if I chain him down and make him watch Cranford (which you really should watch, btw, if you liked W&D!) he'll write about that one. heheheheh.

Spencer: MWAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!!!! I shall infect your readers one by one!!!!!

P.S. Stephen, have you read Kidnapped or watched the most recent version?

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

You forget to tell Stephen, Lauren, that I've watched so many girly movies I can't count them, and what did we watch just last night? Huh huh HUH????

Stephen Boyd said...

I have read Kidnapped and David Balfour (the sequel). REALLY mixed feelings about the movie!!

Stephen Boyd said...

One that I like fairly well, that's rather neutral, is The Wind and the Lion, with Sir Sean Connery.

Rather unrealistic, but cooool movie!

olde.fashioned said...

I have read Kidnapped and David Balfour (the sequel).

*falls and trips all over self* You mean there's a SEQUEL?!??!!? Written by RLS?!? Really?? 8-D

REALLY mixed feelings about the movie!!

Aside from Iain Glen, it's loaded with flaws (and deviations from the book drive me nuts) but since he's such a perfect Alan Breck I didn't really mind that much, ha ha. I'm almost afraid to rent the Michael Caine version!!

One that I like fairly well, that's rather neutral, is The Wind and the Lion, with Sir Sean Connery.

Ack, I've seen this a million times. It's one of my dad's favourites. I don't like that the character who SHOULD be the bad guy ends up being the good guy. :-/ But I'll grant you that it's full of quotable quotes. ;-)

olde.fashioned said...

what did we watch just last night? Huh huh HUH????

(oopsy, missed it -- ) Spencer watched Kidnapped with me. ;-P

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

No, we watched Pride and Prejudice and you know it!!!!!!!

And that's enough off-topic blabber. The comments are supposed to be used to discuss the original blog post!


olde.fashioned said...

Well, you watched Kidnapped too!!! (hehe, I was just teasing you about not mentioning P&P...*halo*)

*bottom lip wobbles* Bbbbut, but, but...I thought we could talk about whatever we wanted! 8-[

Stephen Boyd said...

We watched Daniel Deronda for our movie night.

Lauren: Yes RLS wrote a sequel to Kidnapped, I can't remember if the title was David Balfour or Catriona, which is the girl he marries. That's were the romance in the movie comes from. Alan Breck was awesome...and I loved the accents. VERY historically accurate but the actors could have been better. I kinda feel the same way about Lorna Doone.

Spencer: We are discussing movie reviews, aren't we? Isn't that on topic? P&P is great!

"You wish to tell me and I have no objection to hearing it".

"No lace Mrs. Bennett, I beg you!"

"Obstinate, headstrong girl, I'm ashamed of you!"

Oh, and we mustn't forget kidnapped:

"The hangins easy, it's the catchin' I trust to prove a wee bit more ticklish".

"I could shoot you now...(click)...but it's not loaded."

"King George the first of Scotland and sixth of England, whose name of Stewart I have the honor to bear, said this of smoking tobacco: 'A custom hateful to the eye, loathsome to the nose, and harmful to the brain.' "

Good stuff!

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

You two delight in vexing me!

olde.fashioned said...

Thank you Stephen, Spencer informed me that he told me about the sequel, but I seem to have forgotten it, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and read the synopsis. I had no idea that the irritating girl in the movie was from Catriona/David Balfour!! (they said it has alternate titles) That makes the movie waaaay more palatable to my tastes, because then it's not so much of a deviation from the novel. ;-) I'll have to read DB and then watch it again, ha ha ha.

You didn't like the casting? Please tell me you thought Iain Glen was perfect.

Who don't you like in Lorna Doone?

I've seen most of Daniel Deronda (I think I missed the beginning) and it's a bit depressing, but Gwendolen's bustle dresses are to die for!!

You got all the good quotes from P&P, Stephen! :-D I love the lace one.

I thought everything that came out of Alan Breck's mouth (both in the book and the movie) was riotously funny. The one thing that had me rolling around laughing my head off, though, was when Cluny said about Alan's bright blue coat, "It says SHOOT ME!" I about died.

Where is the tobacco quote? I don't recall that one.

Spencer -- yes, that we do!! ;-D We have no compassion for your poor nerves!

Stephen Boyd said...

It looks like we are talking about two different versions of Kidnapped. The only one I saw was made in 1995, and features Armand Assante and Brian McCardie. Armand Assante, who plays Alan Breck, is the movies best actor hands down! The others are mediocre at best.

John Ridd, in Lorna Doone, was such a bump-on-a-log! Lizzie was also rather irritating.

Daniel Deronda..I have such mixed feelings about that one! I absolutly love the Jewish/Hebrew heritage that was portrayed. They could have left out most of the Gwendolyn Harleth stuff! After all, the book was about Daniel!

I could kinda see Mr. and Mrs. Gibson (from W&D) falling into a Mr. and Mrs. Bennet relationship.

olde.fashioned said...

Haha!! I suppose we should have syncronized our watches before we started the attack. ;-P I mean the 2006 BBC version:

I'll have to start renting all the older ones, for sake of comparison. *cue groans from family members* lol.

Awww!!! I liked John Ridd!! I thought he was good, but to each his own. :-) I agree with you about Lizzie. Somebody needed to smack her.

LOL! Everytime Daniel was on I was waiting rather impatiently for Gwendolen to come back on camera, lol. ;-P The story didn't interest me that much, just her clothes. (aren't I frivolous!) The book may have been about Daniel (I don't know, I haven't read it) but IMO Gwendolen was a part of him, in a way. By spending time with her he was playing with fire, and could have easily fallen down the wrong path. Mirah, while a tad bit boring and much less splendidly-clad, was a better woman and a better match for Daniel. ;-)

Me too!! Except Dr. Gibson is smarter than Mr. Bennet, methinks.

Stephen Boyd said...

Didn't Mirah have a great singing voice?! The difference between Mirah and Gwendolyn just goes to show you that clothes ain't everything. ;P

I really liked it when Daniel realized that he was Jewish and he wholeheartedly embraced his heritage and people, even though Jews were looked down upon.