Friday, December 18, 2015

Film Review: The Target (2014)

The Target (Review)
Chang/Ryu Seung-ryong/2014
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"Although I left slightly disappointed, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't entertained."

Ex-mercenary and military contractor Baek Yeo-hoon (Ryu Seung-ryong) is shot, then hit by a vehicle under mysterious circumstances. Meanwhile, medical resident Lee Tae-joon (Lee Jin-wook) is forced to free Yeo-hoon when his wife is kidnapped...

The Target follows Baek Yeo-hoon and Lee Tae-joon. As it turns out, Yeo-hoon is being pursued by several people trying to frame him for a murder. In order to do so, they must keep Yeo-hoon away from the hospital and out of the hands of the police. So, these pursuers kidnap Lee Tae-joon's wife and force him to aid in their conspiracy. To their utter dismay, Yeo-hoon is a hard nut to crack and Tae-joon isn't very handy on his own. As they proceed with this wild pursuit, the mystery unravels. Although this is a remake (of an incredible thriller, if I may add), I think it's best if I kept most of the plot details to the minimal. There a few very dark scenes, some unexpected twists, and plenty of thrills. It all leads to a decent ending — it doesn't leave a very strong impact, certainly not as strong as some of the other scenes in the film, but it's satisfying enough.

The Target can easily be torn apart by the scathing reviewer. The film is riddled with cliches and plot contrivances. The character development is thin, giving only a few minutes to really buildup the relationships. On that point, the characters are cutouts from films we've seen hundreds of times. Yeo-hoon, the special forces superman character, and Detective Young-joo (Kim Sung-ryung), the under-appreciated female detective that can solve anything, are the two primary suspects. The plot contrivances also stick out, creating some very convenient moments. There are quite a few narrow escapes where the characters escape out of sheer luck. And, for every twist, there's an utterly predictable action-movie plot point – come on, we all knew there was going to be a certain fight at the end. I'm sure there's more, but I'm not a scathing reviewer.

So, what did I like about The Target? Well, despite the plot contrivances and generic characters, The Target is a heart-pounding thriller filled with suspense and action. Although the escapes are based on luck, the plentiful chase scenes are splendid – on-foot or car. The close-quarter-combat and the shootouts are exhilirating. I was at the edge-of-my-seat throughout most of these great action sequences. On top of that, the film does well in balancing the not-so-effective drama and the thrills. In other words, it's very well balanced and paced. Really, with so much going on, the film was over before I knew it. The Target towers over its flaws to deliver a relentless entertainment experience. If you can turn off the 'scathing reviewer' mind for 90-minutes and need to kill time with some bone-popping action, this is the movie for you.

The acting can be a tad too melodramatic here and there. I did enjoy Ryu Seung-ryong as the leading man, though – he works well as the experienced action star. Yoo Jun-sang also delivers a strong performance. The film is shot well, capturing all of the actions scenes perfectly. The music fit the tone of the film during most scenes, really aiding in building up the suspense. The film is directed by Chang, director of Death Bell, and written by Jo Seong-geol and Jeong Cheol-hong. I remember watching the original film and loving it – it was the definitive chase film for me. In this case, I felt it stuck to the foundation, but didn't quite reach the level of Point Blank. There are plenty of superb action scenes here, but the core of the film was still missing character – I wish I could have felt more connected to the situation, even when I was awed by some close-calls in the thrills.

Overall, The Target is a great action film. It has a few glaring issues, especially for those expecting a strong narrative and a robust cast of characters – you won't find that here. Fortunately, if you're solely looking for an action-packed film with a little character, then you've found it. Although I left slightly disappointed, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't entertained. So, go in with the right expectations and you'll have a delightful time with The Target. (If you need more action, check out The Suspect.)

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

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