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Confidential Assignment - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2017

Action, Comedy

Kim Seong-hoon

Hyeon Bin
Yoo Hae-jin
Kim Joo-hyeok
Jang Young-nam
Lee Dong-hwi
Kong Jung-hwan
Lee Hae-yeong
Park Min-ha

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Confidential Assignment

Confidential Assignment - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Im Cheol-ryeong (Hyeon Bin) is part of a North Korean special unit. During one of his missions he and his team are betrayed by Cha Gi-seong (Kim Joo-hyeok). Gi-seong kills Cheol-ryeong's wife and escapes with a couple of printing plates which can be used to print surprisingly realistic looking hundred dollar bills. North Korea is very worried what Gi-seong could do with the plates, because they eventually can be tracked down to North Korea, which wouldn't just further worsen the relationship with America, but could also provoke a war. After the North Korean intelligence managed to find out that Gi-seong is in Seoul now, Cheol-ryeong is sent there, too, under the pretense of taking part in talks between North and South. He is supposed to work with South Korean intelligence, but they don't know what this is all really about. They only know that Gi-seong is a dangerous criminal. While the National Intelligence Service tries to find out what North Korea's real motives are, police officer Kang Jin-tae (Yoo Hae-jin) is assigned to work with Cheol-ryeong as some kind of diversion. Jin-tae finished his last few jobs everything but satisfactory and the North Korean agent also doesn't think much of Jin-tae's skills as an investigator...

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Confidential Assignment - Film Screenshot 4

Review: The tension between North and South Korea has been used as a plot device for espionage or action thrillers often enough. Director Kim Seong-hoon thinks that you can set ideology and almost unsurmountable differences aside, though, and make a buddy movie for the whole family with this subject. Including a good amount of humor. This genre mix eventually makes for a trivial action flick which will be forgotten shortly after having watched it. After all, the story is negligible, the North-South-subject is in parts approached with great naivity and the protagonists also can't win anyone over. Next to that "Confidential Assignment" also turns out to be unnecessarily lengthy, even though you may in fact compliment the movie for its high pacing. The fun is diverting, but also a bit bland.

Confidential Assignment - Film Screenshot 5

Everything in "Confidential Assignment" seems somewhat familiar. The action thriller aspect has already been used in for example "The Suspect", "Commitment" and several other movies. And if you are honest the story always turns out to be pretty similar, too. Although you have to reproach the filmmakers that they may have avoided depicting North Koreans as coldblooded monsters, but that we see a sort of leniency towards Cheol-ryeong which is almost ridiculous. No special unit of an authoritarian regime would give the kind of free space Cheol-ryeong enjoys. Which almost gets downright silly in one certain scene which leads to the finale. Sadly, the humor isn't utilized to maybe include a wink. When it comes to the North Koreans things stay quite serious.

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This makes the screenplay look pretty bad at times. Fortunately, everything stays in motion and some sort of clue which needs to be pursued is always given before the story could get boring. Apart from that you have seen everything else a hundred times before. So, then the chemistry between the two protagonists carries the movie. After all, that's what's crucial in a buddy movie, right? Unfortunately, it turns out that Hyeon Bin ("Late Autumn") is merely allowed to play a stubborn, but good guy. Yoo Hae-jin on the other hand is often just annoying being a chatterbox and all. And this even though Yoo isn't that bad of an actor, if you don't make him take on caricatural characters, see "Desire to Kill". But here he has to portray an in parts truely dim-witted cop.

Confidential Assignment - Film Screenshot 7

The naivity the police displays is generally shocking. Putting aside that it's questionable even as some kind of diversionary tactic to give Jin-tae the case, the spying attempts of the police, supported by the NIS, are ridiculous. But not in an intended fashion. The humor is also constantly working on the surface at best and so it never clicks between the two protagonists. The two are more or less working parallely, which of course is also because of the tight-lipped nature of the North Korean. But somehow there is still forming some kind of bond between the two. At least, that's what the director wants to make us believe. Still, the characters aren't interesting enough for us to warm up to. The supporting characters remain flat, too. The policeman's family may be introduced in a few scenes, but during the dramatic finale the sister-in-law for example is completely forgotten, even though she lives with the policeman!

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Ok, those may be the least pressing problems of the movie, which you maybe even could explain with some good will. But there are simply scenes which will make you scratch your head and during which Cheol-ryeong under normal circumstances probably would have been on the receiving end of a headshot. There are quite a few shootouts, by the way, and also a couple of nice chasing scenes and fights, in which Hyeon Bin manages to score. The action all in all turns out to be hard-hitting and sometimes even a tiny bit bloody, which is why the soundtrack, obviously composed for a family film, irritates even more. The action is the only real plus, though. What's also a pity is that the villain gets away one time too many and therefore makes "Confidential Assignment" drag on too much. There are also a few scenes between the two protagonists that turn out to be unnecessarily long. As is the case with the last scene between the two heroes during the showdown, which once again proves that we have seen movies like this one time too many. Nice entertainment to kill some time, but absolutely trivial and soon forgotten.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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