Saturday, November 10, 2018

Lee Jong-suk’s debut film, THE NEGOTIATION, makes its home video debut this Tuesday

If TrustMovies goes too long without seeing a new film from South Korea, he begins to get a bit antsy for the smart pacing, classy look, action, suspense and envelope-pushing plot twists so many South Korean movies provide. If one of that country's films manages to makes its way over here, chances are it'll be worth a look, and so it is with THE NEGOTIATION, which marks the directorial debut of Lee Jong-Suk. This is a hostage/conspiracy/ corruption/betrayal thriller that, though packing in its share of silliness, also offers maybe ten times that in sheer fun.

Mr. Lee (shown at left), his writer Choi Sung-hyun and crew give us a very fast-moving tale that begins with a police officer (Son Ye-jin, at right below), who is just beginning her vacation, being called back into service due to a sudden hostage crisis. That one goes quickly south, but wait.

The higher-ups now request her services on a new and very different case -- one that keeps expanding and changing the more our heroine probes and learns.

The fact that we're talking about uber-dirty dealings involving the very highest reaches of government, military, police and (or course) the business community should come as no big surprise.

Yet how the filmmaking team puts it all together, unveiling one small surprise at a time, proves exemplary fun. And casting two of Korea's currently most popular performers in the leading roles is smart, too. As the chief villain facing off against our negotiating heroine, that very rangy, handsome actor Hyun Bin (below) is knock-your-socks-off sexy. His character is clever and funny, too, so the pas de deux that goes on between the two is generally quite delightful.

If the movie starts well enough, it grows even better as it continues, until we see a bunch of lying, devious and very powerful men aligned against one quiet but smart negotiator and another perhaps even smarter young man. If we've seen this sort of thing before (and, oh, have we!), the pacing, plotting and very classy filmmaking makes it seem new enough to pass muster as first-rate entertainment.

And if you find yourself asking, But how, against such huge odds, will justice ever triumph?, the movie has an oddball ace up that sleeve, too. No spoilers here, but I think the ending is just different enough that, though you might wish for something more, you'll be willing to buy into the if-only scenario that you're given.

Welcome comic relief is provided by Kim Sang-ho (above, left), while the rest of the cast is, as usual in Korean cinema, certainly up to snuff. But it is Ms Son and Mr. Hyun who carry the film, bringing with them surprising weight and not a little emotion, as the sweet/sour finale approaches.

From CJ Entertainment and running 113 minutes, The Negotiation makes its digital home video debut this coming Tuesday, November 13, on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play -- for both purchase and/or rental.

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