Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: Boat (aka No Boys, No Cry) (2009)

The Boat (aka No Boys, No Cry) (Review)
Kim Young-nam/Ha Jung-woo, Satoshi Tsumabuki/2009
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...takes time to develop the relationship between the pair..."

Two low-level smugglers, Hyung-gu (Ha Jung-woo) and Toru (Satoshi Tsumabuki), are forced to kidnap and smuggle the daughter of a wealthy Korean businessman, which leads to trouble...

Boat continues as Hyung-gu and Toru hide from their pursuers. The woman they kidnapped, Ji-su, offers the pair a 50 million yen to find her father and lead them to safety. Considering the original kidnapping failed and they'd be killed if they returned, Hyung-gu and Toru have no other choice. The story is simplistic, but takes time to develop the relationship between the pair and also adds a little investigative work. In this case, Hyung-gu has no family, while Toru only finds burden in his. The story is slow-paced, really walking towards its unexpectedly dark and powerful ending; it had a bit of ambiguity and was also meaningful in a way.

Like I said, Boat is a very simple film. It doesn't have many twists or turns, and the search for Ji-su's father isn't particularly in depth or creative. But, the story manages to engage through the relationship between Hyung-gu and Toru; the bond they form is unique and genuine, meticulously crafted to make a statement. This is a film where characters are the center, not the plot points. That's not to say the plot was bad, it was actually good -- it just lacked impact. Also, there was one moment that was building up some great suspense but was ruined by a bad plot contrivance -- a moment where your eyes will likely role to the back of your head as you exclaim "I'm so sure!" There's some great humor in the film, too, Hyung-gu offers at least a handful of laugh out loud moments. And, although the film is slow-paced, it wasn't unbearable or even bad -- it's just slow-paced.

Ha Jung-woo is fantastic, he has great charisma and energy in this role. Satoshi Tsumabuki is also great, although he can be occasionally too melodramatic. The film is shot well, the cinematography is great. If there's anything unique about this film, it is its wonderful soundtrack. The picture quality on the Netflix Instant stream was mediocre for a film from 2009; the English subtitles were great with only a few grammatical flaws. Director Kim Young-nam blends the great elements of Korea and Japan and ends up with a very good and meaningful hybrid film; the story could've used a bit more suspense and impact, but it works out in the end.

Overall, Boat is a great drama. It occasionally too slow-paced, it often lacks impact, and there is one very bad scene, but it is redeemed by the fleshed out characters and their great chemistry, the powerful ending, and the two great lead performances. Don't expect a fast-paced thriller and you should have an enjoyable experience.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, some sexual references.

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