Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Enemy At The Dead End (2010)

Enemy At The Dead End (Review)
Kim Sang-Hwa, Jo Won-Hee/Chun Ho-Jin, Yu Hae-Jin/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"Chun Ho-Jin is a fantastic actor... Yu Hae-Jin is equally impressive..."

In a small hospital ward, Min-ho (Chun Ho-Jin) continuously attempts suicide, haunted by his distorted memories, until Sang-up (Yu Hae-Jin), an amnesiac who is paralyzed, arrives and shares his room. Min-ho recognizes Sang-up from his memories and proceeds to exact his vengeance...

Enemy At The Dead End is a fairly straight-forward plot. Min-ho recognizes Sang-up, but Sang-up doesn't recognize Min-ho due to his amnesia. So, Min-ho torments Sang-up and plans his ultimate revenge, as he believes Sang-up is responsible for the death of his loved one. However, when Sang-up's memory returns, he believes Min-ho is responsible for the very same death. Most of the film takes place in the hospital, and most of film's first two act consist of Min-ho tormenting Sang-up. It's darkly humorous, and the final act speeds up the pace. The ending of the film was interesting and surprising; I had mixed feelings, though, as it just didn't seem logical or rational -- it's the type of surprising ending that's only purpose is to surprise, it leaves some plot holes and some questions and just doesn't seem completely thought-out.

Enemy At The Dead End is mostly a black comedy with some thrills. However, the humor, black or otherwise, was inconsistent as were the thrills; I didn't laugh out loud as much as I thought I would, and I rarely felt any thrills or adrenaline. In fact, I felt the plot was a bit in the uneventful side. It does build up its plot and ending subtlety, which is good and keeps you watching, but it often feels like nothing is going on. The climax of the film was witty and clever, but the ending was not so much; in fact, as someone who loves twists and surprises, I felt the ending was the most disappointing part of the film -- like I said, surprising simply to be surprising, with more questions left asked than answered.

Chun Ho-Jin is a fantastic actor, and his performance is a saving grace for the film. Yu Hae-Jin is equally impressive with a raunchy, hilarious performance. The film is shot nicely, and the music is well-fitted. The film is technically well made, and up to par with many of South Korea's best. I have conflicting information on directors, there are either two or four; regardless, the film is directed well enough, but there is a consistency issue where the film lacks humor and thriller elements at certain points and just feels bland.

Overall, Enemy At The Dead End is a good film. The humor, whenever it took center stage, was genuinely funny, especially the raunchy and black comedy. And, the final acts has some thrills. However, the story feels uneventful, occasionally lacking both humor and thrills, and the ending is disappointing; also, the characters are build subtly, sometimes too subtle to appreciate. I recommend the film for fans of the genre, and the two excellent leads.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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