Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: The Terror Live (2013)

The Terror Live (Review)
Kim Byung-woo/Ha Jung-woo/2013
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...one of the best thrillers of 2013..."

Yoon Young-hwa (Ha Jung-woo), a once popular and highly rated news anchor turned measly radio show host, sees an opportunity to climb back to the top when he gets an exclusive live broadcast with a terrorist...

The Terror Live takes place almost completely in a radio show booth turned television set. The terrorist attacked the Mapo Bridge, and calls Young-hwa, who has been given the opportunity to anchor once again and redeem himself, demanding an apology from the President for his tormented past. The tension arises as Young-hwa becomes trapped in a game of life and death, as well as morale. The Terror Live moves ferociously towards a tough and devastating yet honest ending -- it's a bit melodramatic, but it is riveting and effective.

The Terror Live is a pure, stylish thriller from beginning to end. The film keeps you on the edge through its engaging conversations and debates, creating tension and suspense solely through its dialogue. The Terror Live is more of a thriller than most summer blockbusters; and it accomplishes its goals without huge set pieces or state-of-the-art special effects. The story works well for entertainment purposes, and also works well as a commentary on mainstream media and politics -- and how they often interlink. I was very pleased with how the writing handled its topics: it can be enjoyed as a superb, edge-of-your-seat thriller, as well as a meaningful conversational piece.

Ha Jung-woo takes the lead as Yoon Young-hwa with a magnificent performance -- Jung-woo has incredible charisma and can emote powerfully, he's one of the best actors from South Korea standing with Choi Min-sik and Song Kang-ho. The film is shot beautifully with great lighting and a great set. Some of the camerawork can be too rough, for lack of a better term, but it's not nearly as sloppy as what you'd see in your typical found-footage film. The use of computer effects is fortunately limited. The music is unique and memorable, and blends well with the overall style of the film. Kim Byung-woo writes and directs The Terror Live, and successfully creates a tense and suspenseful multilayered thriller.

Overall, The Terror Live is one of the best thrillers of 2013 -- it stands next to New World and Pieta as South Korea's best films of 2013. Multilayered thrillers like this -- thrillers that can entertain and provoke contemplation -- are hard to come by, and Kim Byung-woo successfully creates a fantastic entry in the genre.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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