Magazine article Screen International

'Assassination': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Assassination': Review

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Choi Dong-hoon. South Korea. 139mins

One of South Korea's most commercially successful filmmakers, Choi Dong-hoon (The Thieves) again assembles an all-star cast for Assassination, this time taking viewers back to the Japanese occupation of the 1930s when the Korean resistance puts together a team to carry out a key assassination.

With a budget of $16m, no expense has been spared in portraying the period in compelling fashion with lavish set designs, costumes and some spectacular set-pieces. Assassination, however, suffers from being somewhat shallow and over-long with an overload of characters, although there's plenty here to consolidate Choi's track record at the Korean box office.

Indeed, the film has already taken 3.37 million admissions ($22.8m) in the first five days since its release on July 22 and attracted over 2.4 million viewers ($16.8m) on its opening weekend (July 24-26) making it the second strongest opening weekend ever for a Korean film. Going ahead, it faces some stiffcompetition in the form of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Ryoo Seung-wan's Veteran on August 5, followed by period epic Memories of the Sword starring Lee Byung-hun and Jeon Do-yeon.

Internationally, audiences could have trouble fully understanding the context of the film's historical setting. It has pre-sold widely, however, to territories including North America, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Australia, although it is likely to have a particular resonance in Asia and China in particular, where much of the film was shot and set. Assassination will have its international premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal on August 4.

Although the numerous characters and locations complicate matters, the film's plot itself is, fortunately, relatively straightforward. Mainly set in 1933 in Shanghai and Seoul (formerly known as Gyeongseong), it centres around the Provisional Korean Government police chief Yem Sek-jin (Lee Jung-jae) who is ordered by the Vice President in Hangzhou, China, to find and convince three individuals to kill the leader of the Japanese forces in Korea, along with a business tycoon with close ties to the Japanese government, Kang In-guk (Lee Gyeung-young).

The three who are chosen for this mission are unknown to the Japanese authorities and have a particular set of skills: Ahn Okyun (Gianna Jun) is a sniper from the Korean Independence Army and in jail in Manchuria for shooting her superior; Chu Sang-ok otherwise known as 'Big Gun' (Cho Jin-woong) is one of the last graduates of the Independence Military School held in prison after stealing and selling guns from Chiang Kai-shek's army; Duk-sam (Choi Duk-moon) is an explosives specialist who is in the same jail as 'Big Gun' for selling faulty explosives. …

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