Story: Kyeong-yoon (Kim Kang-woo) and his female long-term colleague Eun-ju (Kim Min-sun) work on an especially
gruesome case. The victim has been stabbed multiple times and the crime scene has blood all over it. Although the killer
has erased his tracks very carefully, the detectives can find a strand of hair at the crime scene, which tells them
that the culprit must have blood type AB and is male. The detectives soon have found a suspect, but that person also gets
killed, eventually. The case becomes a serial murder case and Kyeong-yoon loses track of any lead. Only by chance do the detectives
find out that the two victims were part of the same military unit and have been transfered to another military base
because of an unknown incident. There was also a third person involved in this incident, who could become the next
The case proves to be really hard to crack, and moreover, Kyeong-yoon also has trouble with his girlfriend Soo-jin (Lee Soo-kyeong). When during their investigation the name Lee Yoon-su pops up, Kyeong-yoon's past is catching up with him. A truth he would have liked to repress forever crawls to the daylight again, and the investigation enters its finale phase...
Review: It seems as if Korean movie industry is more and more trying to conquer the thriller genre. Every
now and then there are some interesting films that try to stand out from the rest with unconventional twists and
intelligent stories, yet they never really manage to make use of all the potential that slumbers within them.
It's not any different with "Rainbow Eyes". The movie seems to be promising and is working on a high level when it
comes to the technical aspect, but in the end there isn't much that can get us excited. For once, this is the fault
of the story, which becomes more unbelievable the more the film progresses, thanks to one twist after another
towards the end of the movie. But the blame also has to be put on the characters who aren't fleshed-out enough
and make it difficult for us to sympathize with them. Luckily, the film can score with a nice atmosphere, a few
thrilling moments and well done pictures. Sadly, this doesn't make "Rainbow Eyes" anything out of the ordinary.
Kim Kang-woo ("The Railroad", "Le Grand Chef") takes on the main part, and this time we see him in a completely different role than what we are used to see from him. He plays a cop, who seems to have a dark chapter in his past, and who also hasn't got a lucky hand when it comes to love. He may have a girlfriend, but he also walks out on her on several ocassions since he is always on duty, and maybe because their relationship isn't truely serious. Besides, there is also female colleague Eun-ju, played by Kim Min-sun, who isn't really regarded as a woman by men, because of her tomboy-like character, but who nonetheless has feelings for cop Kyeong-yoon. All in all, there are some characters, which seemingly were written with a bit of ambition to make more of them than just two-dimensional supporting characters, but this idea must have gone missing throughout the rest of the script, since the individual roles seem disappointingly shallow in the end. Which also means that it's not easy for the audience to sympathize with certain persons, something that becomes especially apparent with Kyeong-yoon, who becomes more and more unfathomable towards the end.
It's difficult to decide what to think of certain individuals, and even though this may be somewhat of a standard practice when it comes to thrillers, we still miss any sort of character we can relate to. We only get to know a little bit more about Kyeong-yoon through flashbacks later on, and at the beginning the little pieces of the puzzle we hold in our hand make for an frustrating experience. Only when the case becomes more complex, the script turns to the past of the cop and establishes certain connections which head for a twist that is best described as ridiculously off-beat. Ridiculous because we are not talking about one twist, but about several, so that the script writers might have been able to guarantee that no on of the audience will guess right the identity of the actual culprit, but they did so at the cost of the movie's credibility. Also annoying is that the director seemingly didn't knew when to put an end to his work. At the end, there is an inserted addition that seems specially unnecessary.
Nevertheless, the technical realization of the film deserves some words of praise. Director Yang Yoon-ho isn't a no-name, as he has also been responsibly for movies like "Fighter in the Wind" or "Holiday". This time he once again turns towards a completely different genre than with his previous works, and he keeps proving that he really has learnt his profession. "Rainbow Eyes" is eye-candy because of its fast cuts and kynetic camera work, which always keeps up a certain basic thrill. Some of the flashbacks are stylishly presented via a clock that starts ticking backwards, and a certain very dynamic scene at the police station, which is shot without a cut for some minutes, really can win us over. Only the numerous jump-cuts and black-and-white freeze-frames exceed the maximum of visual tricks that don't seem superfluous. Yet, apart from that Yang manages to weave the right atmosphere into his work, which is indispensable for a thriller.
Despite its overdone roll of twists at the end, "Rainbow Eyes" can touch some interesting topics with its story. The film deals with homosexuality, which is still more or less a taboo-topic in Korea, as well as with transsexuality. One of the policeman even doesn't hide the fact that he thinks of homosexuality as something disgusting, which along with the fact that the story eventually revolves around love, gives a certain profoundess to the movie, the kind you maybe wouldn't expect from it. But all of this sadly gets eradicated by the unbelievable relevations at the end.
Without a doubt, "Rainbow Eyes" is a nice treat for thriller fans, but sometimes it seems as if the thriller was too ambitious for its own good, so that we get a slightly disappointing end product. Nice atmosphere, some gory scenes, a little bit of eroticism and the hunt for the killer in general stand as the movie's strength. Unforunately, the characters and the resolving end can't keep up with these strengths. If you are looking for a decent Korean thriller, then you will get what you want here, but don't expect anything more than that.