TYPHOON (Korean)
  Publicity Stills of "Typhoon"
(Courtesy from Encore Films)

Genre: Action
Director: KWAK Kyung-Tack
Starring: JANG Dong-Gun, LEE Jung-Jae, LEE Mi-Yeon
RunTime: 2 hrs
Released By: GV & Encore Films
Rating: NC16 (Some Violence)
Official Site: http://www.encorefilms.com/typhoon/index.html

Opening Day: 30 March 2006

Synopsis :

The plot centres on an attempt by a North Korean pirate (JANG Dong-Gun), to make a nuclear attack on the Korean Peninsula, and efforts by a South Korean agent (LEE Jung-Jae) to stop him.

The agent comes to sympathize with the pirate, who grew up penniless in China after witnessing as a child the massacre of his family after a failed attempt to seek asylum in the South.

Shot on locations in Thailand, Korea and Russia, Typhoon is South Korea highest budget film made at US$20 million.

Typhoon sets 5-day Box Office record for the year 2005 in Korea drawing in 1.8 million people.

Movie Review:

Typhoon - a tropical cyclone, literally meaning "great wind", which brings about massive rains dancing to high wind speeds, and in the centre, a calm eye, oblivious to the chaos that surrounds it. In many aspects, the movie Typhoon resembles its namesake to a T. The noisy set action pieces that ring out from the start, and in its tender moments, scenes of calm, love and recollection amidst the chaos.

Typhoon is a big budgeted action movie, and it makes no apologies for being loud. It tells the story of 2 men on opposite sides of the law, and on different sides of the Korean Peninsula. Jang Dong-Gun plays Sin, a North Korean regional pirate / terrorist, who hatches a grand plan to avenge a broken vow of unfulfilled defection to the South. Blaming the South for the death of his extended family, he swears violent revenge on everyone South using weapons of mass destruction, while at the same time, seeks his long lost sister. Lee Jung-Jae plays Gang Se-Jong, an elite naval officer who's been hand-picked from the best to head the mission in hunting Sin down, before the diabolical plot can be executed.

It's what you'd expect from an actioner - from gun play, car chases, military hardware, cool special effects (I think it rivals The Perfect Storm's), and again an armed combat scene with knives, though not in the same vein as V for Vendetta's computer graphics aided sequence. It's also quite refreshing to see a Korean movie go on location to countries like Thailand and Russia to shoot pivotal scenes, which adds to its international flavour, and its ability to launch a challenge as a worthy addition to pseudo-spy flicks. The actors too got to practice their linguistic skills as they had to speak multiple languages - Jang Dong-Gun seemed more comfortable with Thai than he was with Mandarin in last year's The Promise.

But when it came to the calmer bits, this was the area where the movie plodded along. The flashbacks helped you to understand the motivations behind Sin's actions and behaviour, though they did tend to drag and got a bit overdone. While there's a lack of romantic love interests, sibling love gets substituted in place, with a brother's search and rescue of his sister, and a sister's sacrifice for her sibling as they rough it out during their escape.

While we understand Se-Jong's empathy for Sin, the script was somewhat weak in portraying this feeling, that in a separate life, they could have been best of friends, or even brothers-in-arms. Both were men with plenty of drive, with passion and obsession, but on screen, this sense of brotherhood gets across as being too contrived when both Sin and Se-Jong confess their admiration for each other. Not that the actors didn't try their best to pull it off, but the script and the way it was written to be delivered, was lacking that punch.

The soundtrack was pretty weak too. While the action bits could get you all excited, it lacked a strong musical overture to accompany the visuals on screen. What could have been crescendos, turned out to be just whimpers, failing to punctuate face paced scenes with appropriate musical mood.

But themes and music aside, Korean action movies never fail to amaze with its picture perfect shots (pardon the pun) of violence, either up close or from afar. It's shock-and-awe during those scenes, which in fact, should just about matter in a movie like Typhoon.

Movie Rating:

(Satisfying action movie which got bogged down by its calmer portions)

Review by Stefan Shih



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