Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: The Outlaw (2010)

The Outlaw (Review)
Kim Cheol-Han/Kam Woo-Sung/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...way too much story for such a short runtime."

Detective Oh Jeong-su (Kam Woo-Sung) of the homicide division suffers from PTSD and depression as he adopts the pain of the victims he crosses paths with. When a vicious crime hits close to home, Jeong-su seeks revenge outside of the law...

The Outlaw is a by-the-books revenge thriller. The story follows Jeong-su over an intangibly long timeline -- I can only assume it takes place over 5 to 10 years. Anyway, Jeong-su witnesses many violent crimes and, due to his sensitivity, they have a large psychological effect on him. When the crimes start hitting closer and closer, Oh Jeong-su disappears from law enforcement for his own breed of justice. The climax starts off interesting, but it becomes very longwinded. The ending features an unexpected twist, but the impact was weak.

The Outlaw has way too much story for such a short runtime. The beginning of the film especially feels convoluted and messy. There are many characters and relationships the film tries to develop but fails to sufficiently do so; the characters themselves are even confusing and odd. The character and relationship development is further damaged by the climax, which takes too much of the runtime; the time the climax used to dance around could've been used much more efficiently during the first two acts. Also, the timeline isn't set in stone, so you have to guess when it jumps ahead. Finally, the film depends heavily on the unluckiest man factor; the good guys in this film, which are Jeong-su and his family, suffer from being completely unlucky -- you'll really scream at the screen "this can't be happening! Did that really happen AGAIN!?!"

The initial concept is interesting, though: a rogue cop seeking bloody vengeance. Despite some weak performances, it also develops some nasty antagonists. The thrills are minimal and there isn't much excitement until the end. The climax and the twist were smart, especially the latter, but the climax took too long to explode, so the anticipation dwindled a bit. Most of the vengeance takes place during the final act; it's not as vicious or as satisfying as I Saw The Devil, but it gives some life to the film.

Kam Woo-Sung is good, but the role didn't demand much, which is surprising considering the dark depths it ventures into. Most of the Korean cast is just decent. Unfortunately, there are some English-speaking cast members, American or otherwise, who are bad; they're inauthentic and robotic in their delivery. The music was good. The editing made this feel like a short series -- a bunch of short episodes edited into a feature length movie. The English subtitles in the English stream were fine for the first hour but become broken during the final act -- full sentences are not translated which leaves the audience guessing. Director Kim Cheol-Han creates minimal thrills and an ineffective drama; there are some redeeming factors to the film, but Cheol-Han ultimately lacks a distinct, consistent, and creative vision.

Overall, The Outlaw is a mediocre revenge film. The film fails to efficiently develop its characters during the first two acts, and barely manages to bring it home during its climax. It enters some dark territory and could've been a depressing tearjerker, if only its story and characters had been developed properly. Worth steaming or renting for hardcore fans of the genre, but not worth purchasing.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, sex and nudity.

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