By Jason Yu from Green Tea Graffiti (guest posting)
------- Minor Spoilers Ahead -------
A serial rapist is loose on the streets of Seoul. Kidnapping young females, this perpetrator brutally rapes them before putting them out of their misery. As police issue a massive search for this sick criminal, a female witness is soon found. She unknowingly entered the killer's car one night, remembered exactly how the car smelt, felt the texture of the car seat, and even heard the killer's voice. Luckily, she escapes the rapist's grasp before she became his next victim. This witness is too good to be true. This sicko will be caught in no time. But there is only one problem: the witness is blind.
Three years earlier, this witness, Min Soo-ah (Kim Ha-neul), was a police officer. Being a protective older sister, she drags her younger brother out of a b-boy competition. When they drive back home, a horrible car accident occurs when the car slams into the highway rail. The crash slams her into pavement and glass, rendering her blind. Her brother becomes trapped in the car and soon, the car falls off the highway rail, killing her younger sibling. That fateful night haunted Soo-ah ever since.
"Blind" follows the strong lineage of Korean thriller, crime movies. As with "Memories of Murder" (2003) and "The Chaser" (2008), "Blind" is a very strong thriller film in its own right. The film takes the opposite approach to thriller, mystery movies. Instead of revealing the murderer towards the end, his identity is already revealed within the first 20 minutes of the movie. The crux of the movie is whether the criminal is brought to justice.
Teaming up with a persistent detective and a young, immature teenager, these three form the main characters of the movie. The three vow to track down the killer. Yet, since Soo-ah is a key witness, her life is now in constant danger. This begs the question: can a blind witness catch a dangerous killer?
"Blind" never has a dull moment. The film never drags on, as every time a section starts to drag on, the movie picks up again. The twists and turns make this so. Throughout the movie, the good guys and villain play a game of cat and mouse. Every time Soo-ah and her companions get one step closer to the truth, the villain throws them off their path. Each time the killer has his back against the wall, he magically "Houdinis" his way out of being caught.
The plot angle of a blind witness trying to catch a smart, crafty villain is also a unique angle. Sight is the easiest way to identify anyone, much less a criminal. Yet, when a person's sight is taken from them, fleshing out someone's persona becomes near-impossible. Soo-ah must depend on her other four senses – hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting – to compensate. This is no easy task, as the viewer will wonder how Soo-ah and team will find their killer.
The cast is overall solid. While some movies are loaded with star power or one actor outperforming their co-actors, this is not the case in "Blind". No one actor stands out. Instead, each actor come together to make the film whole. The acting is also very believable, as each actor plays their role quite well. Even the killer – who has few lines – plays a convincing part as social, perverted deviant.
The themes of siblings and regret are well-represented in this movie. From these themes, they flesh out Soo-ah's character. The accident that claimed her younger brother's life never escaped Soo-ah's conscience. She pines for her brother, which she constantly blames herself for. In fact, other than finding the rapist, the movie centers around when the car accident happened. The constant flashbacks and symbolism throughout the movie further hammers this point. Regret also comes into play. This sad feeling explains how Soo-ah's current life came about. Throughout the movie, the viewer slowly understands her more. They comprehend her beliefs, her thinking, how she feels, and what she fights for.
There are two minor flaws with "Blind". One of the shortcomings is that while Soo-ah's back-story is well-developed, the other main characters – the detective and the teenage boy – are a bit lacking. The movie decided to put the spotlight on Soo-ah – which is understandable. Yet, having some more depth into the other two characters would have made their characters stronger. The other flaw is that the most suspenseful scenes are skewed towards one part of the movie. Telling which part, however, would spoil much of the movie.
With that being said, "Blind" is a highly recommended thriller movie. With a nice blend of action, thriller, and drama, the film was well created. It is easily one of Korea's best movies in 2011 and will not make viewers disappointed.
Score: 9 out of 10
Jason Yu (aka Jangta) lives in Seoul, Korea and is involved in the K-pop industry. He's been interested in Korean pop culture since 1997 when living in Japan. He loves talking to fans and friends about culture, music, video games, anime, b-boy, and sports. He currently runs the Asian themed website, Green Tea Graffiti. For fun, in-depth articles on Asian pop culture or K-pop, check out his website!
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2015 51st PaekSang Arts Awards