By Lee Hyo-won
Let's begin with the end.
The anticipated summer blockbuster "Quick" had Korean viewers, who can be usually seen impatiently darting toward exits before the end, glued to their seats until well after the credits stopped rolling.
It wasn't so much that it was a particularly mind-blowing experience. Certainly some 70 secondhand cars and 30 motorcycles were sacrificed for a string of blast scenes, but it was because filmmakers decided to show how much pain the stuntmen and women had to endure for the project.
In post-"Secret Garden" Korea, TV drama-addicted masses probably have newfound appreciation for these individuals that receive little recognition for creating adrenaline-pumping sequences. But after a couple hours of lighthearted entertainment, one cannot help but wonder whether it was worth all that trouble for people to go breaking their legs for this film
The makers of the 2009 disaster movie "Haeundae" have reconvened for a speedy action film most appropriately named "Quick", after the so-called "quick service" motorbike deliveries that transport everything from corporate documents to people in no time.
Gi-su (Lee Min-ki), who was a legendary bike gang member as a teen, makes a living as a quick service deliveryman. This "Rebel Without a Cause" type tries to live up to his reputation by gearing up on a sleek BMW and designer leather jackets.
One day he is commissioned with delivering bubbly pop star A-rom (Kang Ye-won) to a concert venue. The twist is that the starlet turns out to be his scorned high school sweetheart Chun-sim, but before the two can start reliving old memories and define whoto blame for their breakup, they must deliver explosives in 30 minutes' or else the helmet Chun-sim is wearing will explode.
All the while the police are trailing the motorcycle traveling at 170 kilometers per hour, and it's not before long that they realize the duo is involved in a series of mysterious explosions in downtown Seoul. Among the police is former bike gang member, Myeong-sik (funnyman Kim In-kwon), who hasn't been able to get over his crush on Chun-sim in all these years.
It's replete with one mind-bending motorbike trick after another, and decorated with big explosions, glimpses of a sexy actress' cleavage and some crude jokes. It is so, well, Hollywood, but with thoroughly local culture codes - it will sell well to "Gag Concert"-fed audiences here and appeal as something unique to non-native viewers.
The film has all the looks of a blockbuster, along with some flashing moments of brilliance such as a "helmet shower" scene and seamless camerawork paired with uncanny "trot" beats. But the dramatic tension it tries to concoct along the lines of the cheesy love triangle is completely second rate.
The gross exaggerations by actors are far from "Dachimawa Lee"-style parodies of 1970s cinema; they are simply desperate measures aimed at making up for a superficial script.
What "Quick" offers is truly quick in every sense of the word - something more along the lines of the enticing allure and instant gratification of fast food - fast entertainment that is easy to forget.
Opens in theaters July 20. Runs 115 minutes. Rated 15 and over. Distributed by CJ E&M Pictures.
One-and-a-half out of four stars.
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