Financial fraud taking place in the past decade have been a recurring theme for international cinema, particularly after the global financial crisis that still torments a number of countries. "One Line" presents the same subject in a rather entertaining fashion, focusing on the characters rather than the financial aspect.
In 2005, Min-jae (Im Si-wan) is an innocent looking college student, who happens to be a swindler. In his interaction with "the bigger fish" Seok-goo (Jin Goo), he initially manages to get away with a lot of money, but soon finds himself the victim of one of his associates, Hae-seon (Wang Ji-won), and having to face Seok-goo's enforcer, a truly brutal man named Ji-won (Park Byung-eun). However, Seok-goo, who is in the business of forging credentials in order for poor people to get their loan applications approved, appreciates the intelligence in the young man, and makes him an associate. Min-jae proves that his mentor was right, and soon money comes pouring.
Ji-won, though, has bigger plans that involve them even owning their own bank eventually. Seok-goo does not want to go along, and the "syndicate" breaks, with Ji-won continuing with his plan and Min-jae, along with some of the former associates, continuing Seok-goo's scheme on a much larger scale. At the same time, Detective Cheon (Ahn Se-ha), who is being disciplined for his practices, starts investigating the abundance of financial fraud in the country, although he constantly finds obstacles in front of him. Eventually, a cat-and-mouse game ensures, where the alliances change as fast as the upper hand.
Yang Kyeong-mo-I uses the banking fraud theme as his base in order to present a light film that makes a number of comments, but actually focuses on the characters rather than the concept and the consequences of the fraud. This, however, does not mean that Yang has not done his research, since the story he presents has a solid base, despite the fact that he takes it to extremes sometimes. In that fashion, the corruption of the bankers and the faults of the financial system is quite eloquently depicted.
As I said before though, "One Line" is a character-driven film, and it is in that aspect that Yang's work in both the script and the direction shines. His characters are analyzed thoroughly, and despite the fact that none of them is genuinely good, manage to draw much sympathy from the audience. Evidently, Yang presents his protagonists as quite cool and slick, with Im Si-wan as Min-jae, Jin Goo as Seok-goo, Wang Ji-won as Hae-seon, and Park Byung-eun as Ji-won playing their parts to the fullest. Particularly, Park Byung-eun gives a great performance as the villain of the film as he takes the use of dossier to a whole new level.
Some issues with the script do exist, since Yang takes the story a bit too far, particularly during the end, and the omnipresent melodrama is not missing either. However, even these faults seem to fit the general aesthetic of the film and actually support the entertainment factor of the movie.
Gan Hyun-gook's cinematography presents the various settings and the era in very amusing fashion, while Lee Jin has done a great job with the editing, retaining a rather fast pace throughout the duration of the film. Both aspects find their apogee in the various chasing scenes.
"One Line" is a very enjoyable film that is bound to entertain its audience through its characters, script, and direction.
Review by Panos Kotzathanasis
Available on DVD from YESASIA
DVD 2-disc (En Sub)
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 email@example.com.
"[Guest Film Review] "One Line""
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