Karie the Maknae: Once upon a time, I decided I wanted to watch a movie and review it with MiataMama. We have a mutual love for Gong Yoo, me because Goblin: The Great and Lonely God was my gateway drama, thanks in large part to Gong Yoo’s incredible acting. Between that and my uncharacteristic love for action movies, when MiataMama suggested The Suspect, I thought I could give it a try.
MiataMama: So when Karie the Maknae suggested doing a movie review together, I immediately offered up the 2013 film The Suspect as our subject for discussion. Starring the talented Gong Yoo, this movie has been on my watch list for some time now. After several failed attempts to coerce my hubby into watching a K-movie with me (it’s an action flick, right?!), I decided no more waiting, and dove in feet first!
“Dong Chul was the best special field agent in North Korea, but he’s abandoned by his government during a mission. While on the run, he looks for his wife and child, who were sold as slaves to China, only to discover their corpses. He soon finds out that his colleague was behind the killing and defects to the South in search of his nemesis. He looks for him during the day, and works as a temp driver at night and as a personal driver for chairman Park. One night the chairman is attacked and killed by an assassin, but not before handing over a pair of glasses to Dong Chul. He is now on the run again, accused of the chairman’s murder by the intelligence service, while trying to uncover the secret contained inside the glasses.” (MDL)
Karie the Maknae: I went into The Suspect expecting the same sort of opening as a Bourne movie, and I was not disappointed. There were quick cuts of action and characters tossed at me left and right. Eventually, the good guys and the bad guys and the hero emerged, and the plot started coming together. The character development was solid, and the plot was exciting and as believable as any action flick is. When I was describing it to my husband, I kept comparing it to the Bourne movies. It truly falls solidly in that category.
MiataMama: For me, the story started off a little slow, and a lot disjointed, as I struggled to figure out all the main players. Thankfully, we were tossed clues in the form of flashbacks throughout. This helped a lot and I was able to fill in the gaps and keep up with the unfolding story. Rather than strictly being a North vs. South kind of theme though, the plot struck me as being more about love-of-people vs. love-of-money.
Karie the Maknae: This was a very grey and dark movie–there were few moments of light, as MiataMama discusses below. The car chases were absolutely remarkable–I love a good car chase and got to watch SEVERAL–and inventive. The fighting scenes were fantastic–I think Gong Yoo could give Lee Joon Ki a run for his money. (THERE’S an idea–Gong Yoo and Lee Joon Ki in an action drama together. That could be incredible.) And the shadowy story contrasted with the bright scenes involving Ji Dong Chul’s wife and the ending, which was beautifully done and just SOLID.
MiataMama: This film was dark and gritty in its cinematography. Lots of handheld camerawork, choppy cuts, and way more close-ups than I find comfortable, made it a bit of an unsettling watch for me. However, I give MAJOR kudos to the fantastic car chase scenes and the amazing hand-to-hand fights. They were definitely top notch! During one car chase scene, the vehicles jumped the median and were driving against/dodging oncoming traffic and I found myself thinking, “Oh, just another day, driving in Seoul.” HA! I don’t know if it was a conscious decision or not, but it also felt like the dialogue in the movie was sparse and slow. Maybe it was in an effort to offset all the action sequences?! Not sure, but it was an interesting juxtaposition that worked for me.
Karie the Maknae: Have I mentioned that Gong Yoo is a fantastic actor? I’m pretty sure I have. This movie did nothing but elevate my esteem for his abilities. Park Hee Soon was great as the crusty drill sergeant brought in to do what he does best–hunt down elusive individuals. I could see him playing a detective or something–I’ll have to look into his prior works. And Kim Sung Kyun!!! I loved him in Reply 1988 and was delighted to see him here, working his range to its fullest.
MiataMama: On the whole, I think that this movie was well cast. Gong Yoo played his role superbly, looking and acting every bit the stoic, special forces spy-gone-defector. Park Hee Soon, who played Col Min, is an actor I’ve not seen before. But he showcased the crusty-yet-sharp hunting dog well, as he chased down his prey. The main villain of film, actor Jo Sung Ha, was also a perfect fit. Maybe I’m just used to seeing him in these types of roles though? Either way, he’s definitely one of those characters where you wait, hopeful for a satisfying demise. Honestly, Yoo Da In’s character was the weakest link for me. Not that she acted poorly, more that her character was just kind of… there?? She was the sole female presence and offered up what was needed to make the story finish neatly. However, her scenes were pretty unmemorable for me. I think more backstory would have helped. Surprisingly, my favorite character, was that of Col Min’s military sidekick. Jo Jae Yoon excels in supporting roles. He was the ONLY shining bit of levity and brightness in an otherwise intense film. I absolutely loved him as the cheeky, bubblegum-chewing, sneaky, I-got-your-back, agent!!
Karie the Maknae: The Suspect was an overwhelmingly satisfying action flick. The story was well-told, with strong characters and a tight, straightforward plot. I really enjoyed watching it and I’m glad MiataMama suggested it. I’d give it 5/5 stars.
MiataMama: Reality didn’t quite live up to expectation for me. I’ll be honest, I was it in for Gong Yoo and was a bit disappointed his character didn’t stand out as much as I had hoped. However, if you take that out of the equation, this movie excelled in action, revenge, and tying up loose ends. Because of that, I’m giving it a solid 4/5 rating.
Until next time, we remain–
Karie the Maknae & MiataMama
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi
**This drama contains some swears (in English, because apparently that’s the only vocabulary the CIA has), as well as an uncomfortable torture scene and graphic fights.