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Blood and Ties - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2013

Thriller, Drama

Gook Dong-seok

Son Ye-jin
Kim Kap-soo
Lim Hyeong-joon
Kim Kwang-gyoo
Park Joo-yong
Park Sa-rang

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Blood and Ties

Story: Jeong Soon-man (Kim Kap-soo) is a loving father who takes care of his 26-year old daughter Da-eun (Son Ye-jin) day in and day out since she is all the world to him. Da-eun wants to become a reporter, but even though her interviews always go pretty well she is constantly turned down as she has no contacts in the field and her father, being a simple worker, doesn't look good in her CV. Still, Da-eun is happy because she has her father at her side. However, one day she sits in a cinema at which the true story of a kidnapping is shown. The sound recording at the end of the movie gives Da-eun a true shock. The voice of the man who kidnapped and killed a little boy resembles that of her father. The whole country is currently looking for the killer since the statute of limitation is expiring in a few days. Da-eun can't believe that her father is the murderer, but she nonetheless investigates the case on her own. Her father seems to be a kindhearted man, but soon she finds evidence that makes her doubt this. Her investigation also causes the police to look into things. Who is Soon-man really?

Review: Being a well cast mystery thriller with a focus on drama "Blood and Ties" promises to do everything right. But there is a reason why you should doubt that this stays the way until the end in a Korean thriller. And once again an initially engaging plot loses its momentum during the second half. The resolution isn't convincing either as it seems rather trivial. That's particularly unfortunate since the plot would have served as just the right material to weave a character exploring drama around it. If Soon-man actually turns out to be the murderer how could he have been such a loving father all those years? What constitues his psychological profile? Soon-man is in fact the most interesting character in the movie, but he doesn't meet the expectations you have and that's everything but a minor point of criticism, too.

Blood and Ties - Film Screenshot 11

Kim Kab-soo ("A Tale of Two Sisters") in fact plays his role quite neatly and he has some strong moments that demand acting skills, too. But this shows even more how much you actually could have done with Soon-man. The father remains someone who is full of love for his daughter and always sacrifices his all and everything for her. Yet, there arises some doubt about his innocence. Is this doubt really logically founded? No, but since this is a thriller after all, we are willing to consider that he is guilty. A bitter flavor remains, though. Should Soon-man really turn out to be the killer, the movie hasn't done enough character exploration and if he isn't the film would seem somewhat insignificant.

Blood and Ties - Film Screenshot 12

Anyway, the daughter is outright flat. Granted, since she has been brought up by her father as if being a princess she has to behave like a teenager most of the time despite being 26 years old, but you would still have expected for Son Ye-jin ("Spellbound", "My Wife got Married") to give her role more depth. Instead you get the feeling to follow the protagonist of a horror movie who stumbles from one piece of evidence to the next without being of any importance to the story as an individual. That is especially unpractical in "Blood and Ties" since that way the drama is never really kicking in. Son may skillfully shed some tears, but she remains uninteresting as a person and all in all this does some damage to the thriller. Furthermore, because of that the drama at the end can't touch us at all.

Of course, the movie is also built on absurd coincidences. Of all times it is just a few days before the statute of limitations expires that new evidence surfaces, or rather Da-eun believes to recognize her father's voice as that of the killer. "Confession of Murder" was a thriller that build an exciting thriller on this premise, but with each day that we approach the statute of limitations "Blood and Ties" becomes more and more unspectacular. There are a few things that went wrong here. With its running time of merely 95 minutes the thriller also shouldn't have left any space for tiring scenes, but they are to be found nonetheless. Which isn't supposed to mean that the movie is boring. As it is often the case with Korean productions the craftmanship featured is just too solid to call it that, but an innovative thriller certainly looks different.

Blood and Ties - Film Screenshot 13

Director Gook Dong-seok may deliver his debut here, but he has already been assisstant director in "Closer to Heaven" or "You are My Sunshine". Maybe that's the reason why he focuses on the drama rather strongly. In any case, you can make out that he in fact has some experience. But not when it comes to writing a screenplay. Especially the ending is a big disappointment and the story in general becomes flatter towards the end. "Blood and Ties" may serve as some genre food for thriller fans, but it would be nice for a change for a thriller not to start that promising but then play out its strength well eventually and surprise us this way, instead of disappointing us the other way around like so many times before...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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