The Suspect Review – Korean Bourne Thrills

On rainy wintry days, nothing like a shot of brandy and a good action-packed Korean film to rouse me from my torpor.

It must be a blessed stroke of luck that dropped the Korean film Yong-eui-ja (aka The Suspect, 2013) DVD into my hands yesterday.

Gave me the adrenalin jolt I so desperately craved.

Korean Bourne

The Suspect follows along the lines of earlier Korean hits like Berlin File and Yellow Sea in delivering a fast-paced, slick, tension-filled thriller with a solid actor helming the stunt scenes.

Set within the framework of brutal killings, torture, vengeance, betrayals, demonic greed, North Korea-South Korea tensions and featuring shadowy dirty intelligence operatives playing fiendish games, these Korean movies are not inferior in any respect to Hollywood’s Bourne franchise.

Shin-yeon Won has superbly directed The Suspect based on the story by Lim Sang-Yoon.

The life of a defector in a new country is never an easy one. More so for former North Korean elite military officer Ji Dong-Cheol (Gong Yoo), who defected to the south after troubling political changes in his native land and the murders of his wife and daughter.

Although it’s not clearly spelled out initially, life in South Korea has only one purpose for Ji Dong-Cheol. His idee fixe is to avenge the killing of his wife and daughter by another North Korean defector Lee Gwang-Jo. By day, however, Ji Dong-Cheol works as chauffeur for the CEO of a corporation.

The sedately moving film picks up momentum (rooftop chases, escalator chases, car chases, bridge chases and what have you) when Ji Dong-Cheol’s boss is murdered on the eve of a visit to North Korea by an unknown assassin and he’s framed.

But before the old man breathes his last, he hands over his eye-glasses to Ji Dong-Cheol.

South Korean intelligence agents want those glasses. So do Middle East arms dealers.

What’s embedded in those eyeglasses? Blueprints for WMD? Or something benign?

With the police and intelligence agents (including an old enemy Min Se-Hoon on his trail, Ji Dong-Cheol is on the run. While simultaneously running after others in his vengeance fuelled maniacal frenzy.

The action scenes are superbly choreographed, filmed as many of them are in extreme close-up.

No action film in modern times is complete without a bunch of chases – car, rooftops and the like. And The Suspect delivers in the chase department very well. The car chases, particularly one featuring reverse driving, are top-class and well captured.

If I had one complaint with The Suspect, it’s that the writing is overly complicated in parts. More so in the earlier phase of the movie. Fortunately, as the movie progresses and via flashbacks we get a better sense of unfolding events.

Director Shin-yeon Won, main lead Ji Dong-Cheol, Park Hee-Soon (disgraced military officer Col Min), Cho Seong-Ha (South Korean intelligence chief) and the rest of the crew have delivered a superb thriller that’ll keep you engrossed for the entire 2-hour 14-minute length of the film. is thrilled to recommend The Suspect (available on DVD at Netflix).

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