Sep 3, 2010
Swallowing grit, I decided to watch and review a newer Korean film from the same company that brought us the manic youth transpiring in Attack the Gas Station! Even though these films have nothing to do with each other other than country of origin, I feel that this noted was better than just jumping headfirst into discussing the wildly fluctuating events that occur within the confines of this newer Korean thriller. No Mercy, much like A Bittersweet Life, Truck, Mother, The Chaser, and Memories of Murder, is another excellent K-thriller displaying the exploitative world of Korean crime as popularized in cinema. A steadfast picture without the help of such blockbuster faces of Byung-hun Lee or Kang-ho Song, No Mercy gets right into the jugular at merely the halfway mark and never lets go, not even past the rolling credits. Even though I continue to be in a concise state of duress after my viewings of such emotionally hampering films, it appears I can still channel human emotion into an addressable manner, which is nice.
No Mercy centers around two characters and neither one of them is more important than the other to the fruition of the tale; the only questionable difference is that one of them has more to lose. Sul Kyung-gu is a top forensic investigator who now lives a quiet life waiting for the arrival of his daughter who was in the United States for reasons unexplained at the time. As he dabbles in odd cases and gives advice to the detectives in charge, this does well with establishing a very real connection to the police station and dividing him apart from these unbeatable detective heroes. Min-ho's involvement in a murder case committed by an environmental activist becomes all the more personal when he is handed an envelope while at the airport containing pictures of his kidnapped daughter. Now in order for him to ever see his daughter again, the killer demands to be released in 3 days in turn for her safe carriage. This is where No Mercy turns from typical police drama into a young, rebellious vehicle for insistent evidence tampering, which is a very cool departure from your casual search-and-seizure operations via cinema. I'm looking at you, CSI and Law and Order.
In a radical and idiotic move, No Mercy has been centering itself around its visceral climax entirely, as if to discredit the incredibly paced previous events. Heralding the ending by comparing it to Oldboy's is a blunder on their part. Giving the audience expectations and predictability is exactly what is wrong with modern cinema. Going into a film blind to what may or may not occur is a rarity these days, what, with all the suburbanites checking reviews and ratings with their fancy smart-phones. There might as well be an app for spoilers. Another critical mishap in the same vein was the shot-by-shot remake of [Rec], Quarantine, which featured the final shot of the film not only in the trailer, but as the theatrical poster. No Mercy is a film that stands true to its title, as most films seem to nowadays. Disaster Movie was a disaster, Dead Calm was a quiet thriller, The Other Guys is a film concerning people that I don't care about, and No Mercy doesn't particularly care about any character by the sudden end of this diabolical over-stylized "horror" film.
When the ending does piece itself together after some frantic rogue detective work, the results will be vicious and will incite a session of brainstorming much needed. With all the previous events that transpired, one must pause the film or to seek in retrospect, all preceding scenes and realize the gravity of the situation that these characters were lured into. While I may be considered a hypocrite for bringing to light the banal state of the industry and its pilfering of cinematic curveballs, I had no choice but to face and attack this blatant mimicry of the artistry of the photoplay. For what it is worth, No Mercy isn't one of the Korean masterpieces that I hoped it would be but due to the complexity of the "big reveal" and the chemistry between the antagonist and protagonist, this comes out as a clever, murder-charged spectacle that is easy on the eyes, as are most budgeted Korean films however. It's just a shame that the creators feel the need to reference the "shocking" ending as a selling point for their already-gifted film.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 7:38 PM
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