A scene from THE OUTLAW, directed by Kim Cheol-han for Next Entertainment World.

The Outlaw (2010, Kim Cheol-han)

The revenge thriller isn’t a new genre. Even if it only got mainstream popularized in its current (and lengthy) violent incarnation with Death Wish, one can look back to the beginning of cinema for entries. In other words, The Outlaw‘s nothing new… at all. But the particular Korean filmmaking sensibilities added to this particular revenge thriller makes it a little–graphic violence aside–tame.

A lot of the film seems all right, or at least like an earnest effort. It’s about a cop who marries the victim of a horrific crime and goes through lots of turmoil as they work to make things okay. Or it could have been about that relationship. Instead, it’s The Punisher… only really boring.

When it’s about the relationship and boring, it’s something else, it’s all right; it’s a relationship drama masquerading as a revenge thriller. But when it becomes a melodramatic, melancholy revenge thriller? That point–over halfway through the film–is when The Outlaw becomes trying. Then Kim decides to do all these split screen sequences… it’s annoying.

As the lead, Kam Woo-seong is solid. He’s playing the sensitive cop pushed to the edge (though we hear more about him on the edge than see it). He unfortunately disappears for long stretches.

As his wife, the victim, Lee Seung-min does better than the script. Kim adds a second female principal–Jang Shin-yeong–and it’s a terrible mistake. Jang’s supposed to be cute and precocious, but her presence ruins the film.

1/4

CREDITS

Written and directed by Kim Cheol-han; director of photography, Kim Young-Chul; edited by Moon In-dae; produced by Lee Sang-Min and Yoon Kyung-Han; released by Next Entertainment World.

Starring Kam Woo-seong (Oh Jeong-soo), Jang Sin-yeong (Han So-yeong), Lee Seung-min (Jeong Ji-hyeon), Choi Won-yeong (Park Seong-cheol), Yoon Ji-min (Lee Kyeong-jin) and Jeon Seong-hwan (Judge Lee).

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