Friday, December 11, 2015

Film Review: The President's Last Bang (2005)

The President's Last Bang (Review)
Im Sang-soo/Song Jae-ho/2005
Where To Watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"...aside from the rough introduction, this was a thoroughly entertaining film."

The day of President Park Chung-hee's (Song Jae-ho) assassination at the hands of KCIA director Kim Jae-kyu (Baek Yoon-sik)…

The President's Last Bang takes place during the hours before and immediately after President Park Chung-hee's assassination. Before the assassination, we're introduced to a plethora of characters, including the president, the president's bodyguard and drinking buddy, KCIA director Kim, and KCIA Chief Agent Ju (Han Suk-kyu). To put it lightly, it's quite a bit to ingest, especially if you're not familiar with the event. Fortunately, it straightens itself out rather quickly. President Park is throwing yet another party filled with alcohol and women. Director Kim has had enough and sets out to ignite a revolution of his own with the help of his agency and Chief Ju. What transpires is, of course, a grisly assassination and a political scramble to get to the bottom of it. It's nothing unpredictable, considering it's based on true events, but the endings cleans itself up nicely to deliver a nice punch.

The President's Last Bang is an entertaining film. It almost plays out like a political-gangster film just watching President Park's behavior. It starts off a bit rough due to the lack of efficient character development, but it becomes clearer after the first act. By then, you should have a fair grip on everything that is happening. Also, you should be fully engaged. The planning, the execution, the aftermath... it's all so engrossing. It's filled with tension and black humor, always offering something to say when there could have been nothing left to say — it takes advantage of its time and character. It certainly conjured more than a handful of chuckles from me. So, aside from the rough introduction, this was a thoroughly entertaining film. I wouldn't say it breaks ground, but it certainly piqued my interest on the event. Of course, you should always take these films with a grain of salt.

The film is finely acted by its main cast. Song Jae-ho is excellent as the president. Baek Yoon-sik hits a wide range of notes with a strong performance. Han Suk-kyu is also great, although he was rather familiar — not that he had to, but he didn't take many chances. The film looked great. I liked the cinematography and camerawork. The music was superb — I will be searching for the soundtrack when I finish writing this review. Writer and director Im Sang-soo, director of films like The Old Garden and The Taste of Money, crafts a very engaging and witty film. The storytelling can be a bit rough due to the condensed characters, but it ultimately tells an effective story. I've liked and disliked Im Sang-soo's films — this is one of Sang-soo's films I actually like.

Overall, The President's Last Bang is a great film. It's funny, it's engaging, and it's entertaining. I'm not sure if it's 100% accurate, but it certainly an extremely interesting film. I had some issues with the first act, but I ultimately enjoyed it. If you like black comedies with great settings, this film is for you. The soundtrack is also beautiful — go listen to it!

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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