Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: Commitment (2013)

Commitment (Review)
Park Hong-soo/Choi Seung-hyun/2013
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...committed to entertaining, and it succeeds."

The son of a ex-North Korean agent, Ri Myung-hoon (Choi Seung-hyun), is given the opportunity at freedom and the safety of his young sister if he becomes an agent and enters South Korea...

The story is great. The story follows Ri Myung-hoon as he enters South Korea to assassinate another North Korean assassin working for an opposing government faction. Along the way, he befriends Hye-in (Han Ye-ri), a bullied loner who shares the same name as Myung-hoon's sister. It uses this relationship to balance the character and action, and it does it well. So, they'll talk a bit, nothing especially deep or effective, then Myung-hoon will get down to his violent work. The story heads exactly where you'd expect it, but it didn't lose my interest. Although the ending is unconventional, like many Korean film endings, it did feel predictable -- maybe the unconventional and unexpected endings are becoming expected?

Anyway, I liked it. The story kept me interested, despite some clichés and some inefficiencies. For example, I had conflicting opinions on Myung-hoon's character: is he the cliché silent-and-mysterious-cool-guy or is he silent because of his situation? It's too difficult to tell because the character development is often inefficient. Also, it misses the opportunity to really emphasize on the idea of the kids adopting the war -- of the young adults fighting a war they didn't start -- an interesting commentary, but underutilized. And, my final minor complaint: the story didn't focus much on Myung-hoon's relationship with his sister. I mean, the whole reason Myung-hoon agrees is to save his sister, but her role is minor and her character is almost nonexistent.

Otherwise, Commitment is a great action-drama. The story is very interesting and engaging; the concept has been done, but this has pinches of originality and creativity, such as using a younger generation. I like the relationship between Myung-hoon and Hye-in; I especially like the latter's character. The action sequences are top-notch, too. There are plenty of fight and shootout scenes with great tension and suspense; some of the fight scenes were surprisingly brutal. The blend of drama and action is also well done. In turn, it makes the pacing and balance very consistent. Getting past the clichés and inefficiencies, Commitment is committed to entertaining, and it succeeds.

Choi Seung-hyun, also known as T.O.P, is great as the lead -- he may be a cliché, or maybe he's much deeper, regardless, he's charismatic and acts very well. Han Ye-ri shares less screen time, but is also great. The film is shot nicely; the final scenes are beautifully captured. The music is also great, building up great tension and emotion. The English subtitles are perfect, too. Director Park Hong-soo does well in creating a balanced drama/action film; I think the writing could've used some fine tuning, though.

Overall, Commitment is a great film. Fans of drama and action will find a very balanced and consistent film. It's occasionally cliché and some concepts fall short, but the film never fails to entertain. Also, Choi Seung-hyun performs very well; I had no idea he was in a boy band prior, which makes his performance a bit more impressive.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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