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Luck-Key - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Leok-ki

South Korea 2016

Genre:
Comedy, Thriller

Director:
Lee Gye-byeok

Cast:
Yoo Hae-jin
Lee Joon
Jo Yoon-hee
Lim Ji-yeon
Jo Han-chul
Kim Min-sang


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Luck-Key

Luck-Key - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Hyeong-wook (Yoo Hae-jin) is a professional killer who just murdered someone and discovers some bloodstains on his sleeves. Thus, he visits a public bathhouse. There he slips on some soap and hits his head. Also visiting the bathhouse is unsuccessful actor Jae-seong (Lee Joon) who thinks about taking his own life. Since Hyeong-wook's appearance leaves the impression that he is rich Jae-seong exchanges his locker key with that of the unconscious killer. Later, Jae-seong suffers from pangs of conscience and visits Hyeong-wook in hospital. However, since it turns out that the killer has lost his memory because of his head trauma and believes to be Jae-seong, which everyone derived from the things in his locker, the unsuccessful actor quickly continues living the life of the killer. Yet, he doesn't know of his profession and is wondering why he sees the woman Eun-joo (Lim Ji-yeon) via a CCTV on his TV of his luxury apartment. While the real Jae-seong instantly falls in love with her Hyeong-wook can't pay the hospital bill and lends money from ambulance driver Rina (Jo Yoon-hee). He eventually works at her mother's restaurant and tries his hand at acting.

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Luck-Key - Film Screenshot 4

Review: Only a few minutes into the movie I had a dejŠ-vu. Haven't I seen this movie before? Then I realized that this must be a remake. To be exactly a remake of the Japanese movie "Key of Life" from the year 2012 by Kenji Uchida. I was still a little bit worried that I would get a one-to-one remake of a movie I had already watched. Fortunately, director Lee Gye-byeok takes only the story's keystones and weaves a movie around it that easily can stand on its own two feet. Furthermore, "Luck-Key" proves to be extremely entertaining. Truely a movie that simply manages to create a good mood and most importantly avoids any slapstick, just as the original. So from a entertainment standpoint there is really nothing to be criticized.

Luck-Key - Film Screenshot 5

It's not easy for a filmmaker to first introduce a cold-blooded killer, only to rebuild his character from scratch via amnesia. The danger you face is that the viewer simply can't forget what kind of a person we are actually looking at. Especially since it's absolutely obvious that the killer will eventually regain his memory. There are certain screenplay conventions you can't avoid. But from a blank sheet that needs to be filled Jae-seong, who is actually Hyeong-wook, turns into a likable guy, also because of an interesting subplot since Hyeong-wook wants to establish himself as an actor for the man he considers to be his father. And so through his acting he gets to know himself and gains insight into his emotional world, which was probably always closed to him as a killer.

Luck-Key - Film Screenshot 6

Yoo Hae-jin ("Confidential Assignment") can be seen in his best role to date. He manages to show a wide range of emotions, constantly through a filter of aloofness, until he eventually warms up to people. Hyeong-wook just seems human so that we actually care about his fate. Lee Joon ("The Piper"), who plays a true loser, really pales in comparison. Jae-seong's story and his romantic relationship with Eun-joo, which is the result of a disturbing case of stalking, is simply uninteresting and therefore stands as the story's weakest link. A lot more natural is the romance in the air between Hyeong-wook and Rina which is built on the running gag that the man suffering from amnesia is 32 years old according to his ID, contrary to what he looks like and therefore seems to be of the same age as Rina.

Luck-Key - Film Screenshot 7

When "Luck-Key" becomes more emotional this is nicely concealed. Love confessions are made through the gangster romantic tv show implemented into the movie for example. The scenes on set of this TV show are in general always made good use of for some neat laughs since the genre is made fun of in a refreshing way, e.g. when a character believed to be dead returns because the fans have spoken against the character leaving the TV show in several internet forums. Moreover, it's funny to see how Hyeong-wook is successful in a life which in fact isn't his. He pursues a profession he doesn't have any talent for, but he has his breakthrough thanks to his hard work. There is a lot to be learned about his true character here and that of Jae-seong who simply takes each day as it comes, wanting to take his own life since he doesn't see obstactles as a challenge.

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Luck-Key - Film Screenshot 10

Director Lee Gye-byeok has already gained some experience in the romantic genre with "The Beast and the Beauty", but he was also assisting director of a little movie called "Oldboy". This also explains why "Luck-Key" may be of a lighthearted nature all throughout, but also manages to be quite bloody at times and is convincing during the more gritty scenes as well. Furthermore, you have to praise that this implementation of contrasting genres is well-achieved! Next to that you should be thankful that there is a lot to laugh thanks to the well-written protagonists, but that no cheap slapstick is made use of to achieve this goal. All in all, the movie might be a bit predictable, but this is not supposed to belittle the effort of "Luck-Key" being a great movie full of cheerfulness, making it easily recommendable.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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