2012/03/03 | 883 views | Permalink |
Lee Hyeon-seung's return to filmmaking took the form of the rather limp and indulgent "Hindsight", a less than enthralling piece that lead actor Song Kang-ho will surely wish to forget along with Hyeon-seung himself. The film failed to create a buzz at the 16th Busan International Film Festival; in fact it was harshly slammed. The local box office figures mirrored that same stiff response as Hyeon-seung's soporific characters wander meaninglessly through the film's dreamy, but jarring inconsistent, visuals.
Legendary Korean actor Song Kang-ho plays Doo-heon, a retired Seoul mobster whose plans to open up a beach-side restaurant in Busan are upset when the death of his previous mob boss sucks him back into mix. He is secretly being monitored by the sexy and mysterious Se-bin (Sin Se-kyeong), a skilled markswoman who has her own troubling debts to the terrible named " Haeundae " gang. The two meet in a cooking class where Doo-heon quickly becomes transfixed with her and her culinary creations. A romance of sorts tries to develop, despite the obvious and troubling age gap between them, but their involvement with crime lords creates unavoidable complications.
It's all a little bland and it's clear early in the film that Lee Hyeon-seung's was unable to weave the numerous gangster clichés used into anything remotely memorable. The film's opening scene of Se-bin shooting Doo-heon in the chest places the first, but not the last, misplaced brick in a story so plagued with useless exposition and poor dialogue that even an actor such as Song Kang-ho cannot salvage it. One-dimensional figures move around the screen like shapeless shadows, unable to add depth to the paralysed spine of events. The main actors themselves are unbalanced, with Song Kang-ho's cinematic charm out-classing all who had the unfortunate time of sharing the frame with him. Even his co-actress was frustratingly unmoving and played nothing more that a glorified extra. Her role as the turned assassin/love interest is barely made interesting by Song's ability to frame her as desirable and worthy.
The film doesn't have much going in its favour, especially when considered as whole. Song's performance is far below his best, but he is still able bring some pull and respectability to the spectacle. However, even he cannot offer up an appropriate suture over the lacklustre screenplay and dialogue. If you can fault him at all it's in his decision to partake in such a film in the first place. In addition to Song's presences, the film has some truly gorgeous visuals. Busan, and even Seoul, is captured with a dreamy sensibility that provides stunning backdrops, or rather welcomed distractions, to the foreground failures. The film's latter events I may soon forget but the setting was unforgettable and emotive. Sadly though, despite the film's attractive presentation, elements such as this stuck out instead of subtlety accenting the action.
"Hindsight" had a handful of decent qualities that may be enough for some, but the average viewer will probably be highly disappointed, even frustrated or angered, with Lee Hyeon-seung's efforts here. Basic story construction and character where sacrificed for some unintelligible notion of entertainment. The superficiality of events and characters is a flaw that cripples any cinematic experience and, as a result, "Hindsight" is paralysed early on. Despite Song's presence, some remarkable visuals, and a sexy co-star, "Hindsight" will not be remembered and nor should it. Let's hope a few lessons were learned here and that director Lee Hyeon-seung's next piece "Night Mist"", interestingly also starring Song Kang-ho, will make better use of his talents as well as his lead actors.
-C.J. Wheeler ([email protected])
Available on DVD from YESASIA
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hindsight""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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