Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Secret Reunion (2010)

Secret Reunion (Review)
Jang Hoon/Song Kang-ho, Kang Dong-won/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...a very exciting and entertaining film..."

Years after a botched mission to stop a notorious North Korean hitman named Shadow, former NIS Agent Lee Han-gyoo (Song Kang-ho) crosses paths and secretly teams up with the abandoned North Korean rookie Ji-won (Kang Dong-won).

Secret Reunion mainly follows Han-gyoo six years after the failed mission to stop Shadow and Ji-won. So, Han-gyoo becomes a private investigator of sorts and Ji-won, who was abandoned by his country due to a misunderstanding, finds work with immigrants. They eventually cross paths and start working together in Han-gyoo's line of work, each trying to hide their identities and each with their own intentions. The film blends its action and humor very well, with a subtle social commentary, and ends with an excellent climax.

The Secret Reunion starts off a little rough. The introduction features a great action set-piece, but it is partly spoiled by a weak plot contrivance. ("Oh no, I dropped my gun for no apparent reason.") It doesn't break the film, but it's worth noting. Fortunately, the film quickly recovers for a less contrived approach -- in fact, it drops most plot contrivances.

The rest of the film is a great blend of humor and action. It's not an action-comedy per se, but it clearly uses both elements -- and it uses them well. The use of quirky and often laugh-out-loud humor and great action sequences makes for a very balanced and excellently-paced film. In fact, I didn't check the runtime at all, and it was over before I knew it. I loved Han-gyoo's quirky and often incompetent character, and I loved Ji-won's ferocious action.

As for the underlying message, or at least what I got from the film, it does not preach -- you don't even have to see it, or you may not even recognize it. Anyway, the film is really about people and inhumane actions. How we should treat people as humanely as possible, regardless of their origin. Simply because someone is from a different region doesn't mean we should treat him inhumane.

The acting is great from both Song Kang-ho and Kang Dong-won. Song Kang-ho is as energetic and as lively as ever -- he really brings life to every film he stars in. The film is also shot well, and features a standard action soundtrack. The Netflix Instant stream is mediocre -- the translation has some misspellings and broken grammar, and some of the subtitles are cut, though. This version also looks worse than a DVD. Director Jang Hoon, who has helmed Rough Cut and The Front Line, finds the perfect balance in action, humor, and commentary -- it's a very exciting and entertaining film thanks to his precise and focused directing.

Overall, Secret Reunion is a great film. It starts off a little rough, but quickly recovers for an entertaining action-comedy hybrid. Although I think it's very well-paced and balanced, there is some room for improvement -- by some, I mean just a tiny bit. If you're looking for something entertaining and exciting, Secret Reunion is for you.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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