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The Terror Live - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Deu tae-ro ra-i-beu

South Korea 2013


Kim Byeong-woo

Ha Jeong-woo
Lee Kyeong-yeong
Jeon Hye-jin
Choi Jin-ho
Kim So-jin
Lee David

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The Terror Live

Story: Yeong-hwa (Ha Jeong-woo) has been one of the most popular news anchormen in the business. But now he works at a radio station and has only little hope to ever make a career again. That's when he gets a call during his radio progamme by someone who complains about the government. Since he doesn't stop with his complaints Yeong-hwa considers him a nutjob. In the commercial break the mysterious caller then threatens to detonate a bomb. The radio host doesn't believe him until suddenly an explosion can be heard from the Mapo Bridge. The bridge has partly collapsed and Yeong-hwa senses a big story. Before the culprit calls again he informs his superior that they have an exclusive interview with the bomber if he is allowed to present the story on live TV. His direct superior Dae-eun (Lee Kyeong-yeong) agrees to all of his terms. The caller introduces himself as a construction worker who had to watch his colleagues fall to their death during repairs on the Mapo Bridge without the government caring at all, since rescue workers were otherwise occupied because of the visit of high-ranking government officials. The caller demands an apology from the president or he would detonate more bombs. Yeong-hwa is personally involved in the deadly game of the mysterious caller as well since there is a bomb in his ear-piece.

Review: 2013 seems to have been a good year for Korean thrillers. After "The Berlin File", in which Ha Jeong-woo was to be seen in the lead as well, and "Cold Eyes" we now get "The Terror Live". This thriller also has a great ace up its sleeve. It doesn't simply rely on exciting entertainment in order to captivate its audience, it also is highly socio-critical and therefore can convince even those who also like a little bit of story to their action. The movie does nearly everything right it should: The pacing is quite high, the characters are more interesting than you might have thought at first and the story manages to excite, even though it seems a bit unoriginal in the beginning.

The Terror Live - Film Screenshot 11

What instantly catches the eye is the camera being constantly in motion and creating a certain momentum. The movie looks expensive, but when looking more closely you will notice that there have been certain tricks made use of extremely well. For example, the bridge that has partly collapsed can almost at all times only be seen from a distance and thus the CGI effects look always quite impressive. Even during the finale they look believable. Apparently the budget has been perfectly made use of. There is another astonishing effect created by the fact that the movie almost entirely takes place at one single studio. On the one hand this allowed budget savings, on the other hand suspense is focused and condensed in a single room while the world around the moderator slowly starts to collapse.

The Terror Live - Film Screenshot 12

Ha Jeong-woo ("The Yellow Sea", "My Dear Enemy") has to face a difficult task as he carries the movie on his shoulders almost all alone and to make matters worse is an individual that not really wins over our hearts. He is relentless when it comes to chasing after his goals and that's exactly what makes him the archetype of the egoistic and overconfident Korean who wants to be at the top of the food chain. This type of man seems to have a particularly strong presence in the media industry and so Lee Kyeong-yeong ("National Security") plays a superior who is also even willing to go to any lengths if it helps his career - and yet he isn't an uncharismatic fellow.

Yeong-hwa needs to ask himself who he can still trust. In fact the audience can sympathize the easiest with the terrorist and that's also supposed to underline how much is wrong with Korean society. Bribes in the government are omnipresent, you just do anything to look good for officials from foreign countries, the requests of the people, especially of those with little funds, are trampled under foot and there are no apologies for obvious erratic behavior in government circles. The socio-critical tone constitutes the backbone of "The Terror Live" while the level of suspense is constantly rising. There are a few revelations and Yeong-hwa doesn't get more likable because of them, although you might start to pity him for the situation he is caught in. Despite all his flaws we want to see him survive the deadly game, though, and in the end we even somewhat learn to respect him despite or maybe just because of his flaws. You still don't need to like him.

The Terror Live - Film Screenshot 13

The extreme suspense level that ins constantly stepped up and gets ignited by the fact that really anything can happen in "The Terror Live" is one of the movie's great merits. Therefore, it is even the more surprising that the pacing drops significantly during the last 30 minutes. The film almost completely loses its ground and a very promising thriller seems to be driven against the wall, when director Kim Byeong-woo ("Written") manages to surprise one last time. You don't have to approve of Yeong-hwa's decision, but it is one that you can understand. The guts "The Terror Live" proves to have, its unpredictability and most of all its striking socio-critical tone make you forget that this isn't a perfect movie. As "The Terror Live" shows ingenuity and the courage of being different as well as delivering a memorable ending this movie deserves an especially heartfelt recommendation!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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