Friday, January 15, 2016

Film Review: The Chronicles of Evil (2015)

The Chronicles of Evil (Review)
Beak Woon-hak/Son Hyun-joo/2015
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...I was fully engaged during the latter half and astonished by the climax."

Days before his prestigious promotion, homicide detective Choi Chang-sik (Son Hyun-joo) spirals into a tailspin when he accidentally murders someone and covers up the death...

The Chronicles of Evil follows Choi Chang-sik – a highly decorate homicide detective in line for a promotion. After a night of celebratory drinking, he is attacked by his taxi driver. He kills said taxi driver, then covers up his crime. The next day, he finds his victim dangling from a crane for the world to see. So, as his peers race to find the truth, Chang-sik races to cover his tracks and find the person who saw him. Of course, there's also a bit of suspicion from a rookie peer, detective Cha Dong-jae (Park Seo-joon). Any of this sound familiar? Well, the premise is nearly identical to 2014's A Hard Day, which made the first half of this narrative feel a bit slow and dull. It's not bad, but it doesn't start off very strong, especially when compared to A Hard Day. Fortunately, the film starts sprinting and differentiating itself during the latter half. It really comes full circle for a very strong finale – much stronger than A Hard Day.

Okay, okay, enough comparisons to A Hard Day. (You have to admit, though, they are very similar.) The Chronicles of Evil is a very good thriller. The film starts off slow, almost crawling, but slowly begins to walk, then jog, then sprint... You get the gist. The build-up isn't anything original, as already mentioned multiple times, but it works. Instead of fast-paced chase scenes, the film utilizes realistic close-calls to create suspense – it works. As it proceeds, it begins to utilize elements of mystery to create a more engaging web. More characters are introduced, motives are unraveled, and, of course, the twists begin to hit. It may not be the most engaging or suspenseful film to begin with, but it eventually starts to hit. Although I was meandering a bit during the first half, which was still decent, I was fully engaged during the latter half and astonished by the climax. Stick with it and you'll be rewarded.

Son Hyun-joo, who also starred in suspense-thriller Hide and Seek, does well as the leading man. He's not too over-the-top or underwhelming, he's about right. Ma Dong-seok, who's usually a side character in a plethora of films, also stood out with a great performance. The film looks great, oozing with the popular noir style. The music was also good – some great choices in the soundtrack. The film is written and directed by Beak Woon-hak. Although the first act is lacking in energy and originality (how many detectives are going to hide their crimes this year?), Woon-hak knows how to craft suspense and deliver the goods. In both writing and direction, he really redeemed himself with the second half of the film. I look forward to seeing more from Woon-hak.

Overall, The Chronicles of Evil is a great movie. It starts off a bit slow, especially if you've already watched A Hard Day, which is a fast-paced film with a similar premise, but it takes off during the latter half. Some of the scenes are oozing with convenience, but most of the narrative is well thought-out and meticulously-crafted. If you're looking for a suspenseful mystery-thriller, I think you'll enjoy this one.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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