Friday, January 23, 2015

Film Review: Blood and Ties (2013)

Blood and Ties (Review)
Guk Dong-seok/Son Ye-jin/2013
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...despite the very convenient story, the film is at least entertaining."

After watching a film about an unsolved murder, aspiring reporter Da-eun (Son Ye-jin) begins to suspect her father of the crimes...

Blood and Ties is an interesting crime-thriller. The film follows Da-eun after she watches the film. At the end of said film, a voice recording plays. The voice is eerily familiar to that of her father, Son-man (Kim Kap-soo). So, she suspects her father is the culprit. Her father has a way with words, though, so she doesn't believe it. Then, a man from her father's past arrives and she begins to suspect him again. That's essentially the entire film. She suspects him, she doesn't, she suspects, she doesn't, and so on. The climax and ending are interesting, at least.

Blood and Ties offers just enough to be entertaining and engaging. It's not much more, though. We get the idea that there's a strong father-daughter bond here through a flashback and some character development, but not much more. I would've loved to see a bit more father-daughter interaction. The repetitive formula was disappointing, too. Da-eun was so inconsistent in this film. "It was you!" "I'm going to report you!" "Okay, maybe I won't." "Never mind, maybe I will!" "No, I'll protect you." It was such a bizarre character conflict because it didn't feel natural. I understand she'd have some inconsistent behavior, but I felt like it was too much.

Also, the film is incredibly contrived. In fact, most of the film can be described as convenient -- all the way up to the interesting end. The ending poses an interesting question about how deep family blood runs, but it feels convenient. I don't mind some plot contrivances, but, like Da-eun's character inconsistencies, it's too much in this film. I don't know how many times I had to murmur under my breath, "Oh, how convenient." This is especially prevalent when the mysterious man of the past comes to play. Anyway, despite the very convenient story, the film is at least entertaining. There is some light suspense here and there to develop the thriller atmosphere, and the story kept me engaged until the end.

The acting is great, at least. Son Ye-jin delivers a strong performance as the leading lady, she's filled with charisma. Kim Kap-soo also does very well. The film is shot well, too. The music blended with the film well, but it wasn't anything that stood out -- maybe that's a good thing for some, but I like a strong soundtrack. Guk Dong-seok's direction is solid. The film is paced very well -- it always stayed on its feet -- the suspense and thrills are satisfying, and the acting is great. The writing, however, is too contrived. The story is simply over-reliant on convenience, it feels like it was woven on the whim.

Overall, Blood and Ties is a good film. I bashed it a lot in this review, I know. However, don't forget, I also said the film is entertaining and engaging, and the acting is great. All-in-all, it's a very well made thriller. The story has some crippling flaws, though, like the contrived plot and the very little character development. Sure, it's on the disappointing side, but it offered enough to keep me hooked from beginning to end. Recommended for fans of thrillers with an hour and a half to kill. (By the way, this film is a good complimentary piece for Voice of a Murderer, which is a better film. Blood and Ties feels like a follow-up to said film!)

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

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