The film is based on the true story of a 70-year-old angler, who killed four women between August and September 2007, in Bosung.
Hyeon-ah is a young actress who travels to the countryside with a director who has promised her a role in his next film. Eventually, they stop in a village to eat. Unfortunately, the seemingly peaceful and polite owner, Pan-gon is paranoid murderer who, almost immediately, kills the director and chains the girl in a cage in his basement. Her sister, Hyeon-jeong, who is worried when she does not communicate with her for days, goes to the village and starts searching for her. The local police officers show no will to help her. She, however, starts suspecting Pan-gon after a while.
Kim Seong-hong does not delay at all in portraying what the movie is all about, since, by the end of the first quarter, Pan-gon has revealed his true nature. From that point on, the script revolves around Hyeon-ah's torture in his hands, and Hyeon-jeong's desperate efforts to find her. Nevertheless, Kim also focuses on the characters of his protagonists, in a tactic that results in the film having an above average flow. The fact that this trait even extends to Pan-gon, in a quite rare practice for films of the genre, makes the film stand on a level above the majority of the category.
However, "Missing" is not a psychological thriller, but an exploitation one, and in that fashion, it entails graphically depicted violence, while the scenes with the axe touch the borders of splatter. Notions of sadism are also present, and add to the film's general aesthetics, resulting in a spectacle quite difficult to watch.
The exploitation aesthetics are even more heightened by the cinematography, which focuses much on Hyeon-ah's nudity and torture.
In the protagonist roles, Moon Sung-keun as Pan-gon, Choo Ja-hyun as Hyeon-jeong and Jeon Se-hyun as Hyeon-ah play the archetypical parts of villain, savior and victim, respectively. The former is the one who stands apart, being utterly convincing as the sick torturer and murderer.
"Missing" is obviously a film addressed to fans of exploitation, but stands apart, chiefly due to its villain.
Review by Panos Kotzathanasis
Panos Kotzathanasis is a film critic and reviewer specialising in East Asian Cinema. He is the founder of Asian Film Vault, administrator of Asian Movie Pulse and also writes for Taste of Cinema, Eastern Kicks, China Policy Institute and Filmboy. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Panos Kotzathanasis can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[Guest Film Review] "Missing""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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