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Believer 2 - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Dok-jeon 2

South Korea 2023

Action, Crime

Baek Jong-yeol

Cho Jin-woong
Cha Seung-won
Han Hyo-joo
Oh Seung-hoon
Kim Dong-young
Lee Joo-young
Jung Joon-won

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Believer 2

Believer 2 - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Detective Jo Won-ho (Cho Jin-woong) is still on the hunt for Mr. Lee, a drug lord who operates in the shadows. Brian (Cha Seung-won) had previously posed as Mr. Lee and had to pay a heavy price for it when he suffered severe burns causing constant pain and confining him to a wheelchair. Big Knife (Han Hyo-joo) is one of the few people who knows Mr. Lee's identity, and she gets rid of anyone who claims to be the drug lord. The drug cook Seo Young-rak (Oh Seung-hoon) lures her out of China. Young-rak is capable of making the drug Laica, which Mr. Lee then sells, so crazy Big Knife starts to take interest in him. Young-rak tries to get close to Mr. Lee too, although his reasons for doing so are unclear. However, when he tries to propose a deal to Big Knife, Detective Jo shows up and there is a gunfight. The gangsters escape and Jo is suspended. That's fine with him, though, as his next lead takes him to Thailand anyway. There he meets Brian again, who has a new plan to take Mr. Lee's place again and sell Laica. Yet, he also involves Detective Jo and the cook Young-rak. It seems that the various parties will have to work together, at least temporarily, in order to find Mr. Lee, but this will also cause a lot of bloodshed...

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Believer 2 - Film Screenshot 4

Review: Even though "the first part" could more or less stand on its own, a sequel makes perfect sense too, and "Believer 2" seamlessly picks up where its predecessor left off. Accordingly, you shouldn't go into the movie without any previous knowledge, even though the most important events are introduced in a somewhat lengthy summary. But it's still hard to remember everything through that, which is also due to the fact that the first part was rather forgettable. A circumstance that obviously makes it a bit surprising that there is a sequel in the first place. That being said, there are some critics who consider "Believer" to be quite a success. Unfortunately, the second installment has similar problems as its predecessor had. Especially when it comes to the characters, who don't really manage to touch us. But on top of that the movie also lacks focus, which suggests the script was rewritten several times.

Believer 2 - Film Screenshot 5

"Believer" was a remake of the Chinese flick "Drug War", with which director Johnnie To quite successfully worked his way past the Chinese censorship board. While To has his own unique style that makes the tension in the air almost palpable, the Korean remake felt like just any other action flick. And the second part also lacks identity. But there was apparently enough money involved here, so that everything looks very polished. When it comes to the rest, however, there was less effort put into the movie. The script unnecessarily changes some things from the first part, Oh Seung-hoon takes over Young-rak's role, and other actors are replaced too. The biggest problem is that, despite Young-rak's revenge story, we don't really care about the characters, because their only purpose seems to be to push the story forward, which itself lacks focus.

Believer 2 - Film Screenshot 6

This is most evident with Detective Jo. He doggedly chases after Mr. Lee and doesn't show any personality of his own. At some point, he is even forced to temporarily form alliances, but this seems so forced that you can't really take it seriously. It doesn't necessarily fit Jo's character either, if you really want to call what we get a character. Over quite a long period of time, the story completely drops Jo, and we suddenly have a plot that revolves around Young-rak - including some flashbacks which are supposed to make the movie more complex than it actually is. As was the case in the first movie Cha Seung-won ("Sinkhole") once again upstages everybody else, though. Then there is also Big Knife, played by Han Hyo-joo ("The Pirates - The Last Royal Treasure"), who may seem a bit exaggerated, but is portrayed by Han with the necessary malice and ruthlessness.

Believer 2 - Film Screenshot 7

So you can actually have fun with some of the characters, even though more on a superficial level. On top of that, there's the action, which again turns out pretty violent. The gunfights aren't anything out of the ordinary, but because of their bloodiness the stakes seem quite high and dying looks a lot more dramatic. So, for this reason, there are a few action scenes that are worth watching, but most of the time, the movie stumbles into shootouts without much warning, which once again reveals the script's weaknesses. The missing common theme also becomes a problem in the finale, which turns out pretty anticlimactic. What could also be a strength is a very peculiar choice for a movie like "Believer 2", because it doesn't have that much depth to pull it off. If you were actually interested in the characters, this could have worked, but here you feel cheated out of an action-packed showdown.

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Which is a real pity. Because the ending might actually have moved us emotionally if we weren't completely indifferent to the fate of the various characters. And the problem isn't that "Believer 2" just presents us with grey characters at best. On the contrary, it could even have worked in its favor. No, the biggest oversight was to not focus on the characters within the framework of a revenge story, because on a dramatic level it makes the movie run into a brick wall. Next to that, the action is too unoriginal to actually save the flick in the end. It also remains unclear whose story "Believer 2" tries to tell. There are probably some people who will be blinded by the high production costs and the action, or who will simply have fun with the movie thanks to that, but if you keep things in perspective, "Believer 2" is even worse than its predecessor. It makes you wonder what the sequel would have looked like in the hands of Johnnie To...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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