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Troubleshooter - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2010

Action, Thriller

Kwon Hyeok-jae

Sol Kyung-gu
Lee Jeong-jin
Oh Dal-su
Ju Jin-mo
Lee Sung-min
Moon Jung-Hee
Lee Young-hoon
Song Sae-Byeok

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Story: Kang Tae-shik (Sol Kyung-gu) is a former cop, who is now working as a private eye. One day he is called to a hotel where he is supposed to expose an affair, but instead he finds a body. The police is already on their way and an unknown man at the phone (Lee Jeong-jin) tells Tae-shik that he will frame him for the murder and that he should do exactly as he tells him, then he would prove his innocence. Tae-shik flees from the police and waits for further instructions of the mysterious man. The man soon calls again and informs Tae-shik that he has to kidnap the politician Yoon Dae-hee (Lee Sung-min). Yoon has some sensitive information which leakage would result in a political scandal. Tae-shik's only friend in the police, Won Joo-bong (Ju Jin-mo), tries to help him uncover the identity of the mysterious man while he gets his hands on Yoon. However, from then on everything starts to become really complicated and the whole case causes some big waves. While a police unit led by Choi Sang-cheol (Oh Dal-su) is frenetically searching for Tae-shik Choi realizes that some bigger association seems to be framing Tae-shik.

Review: "Troubleshooter" is a fast-paced and entertaining action flick in its core which nonetheless doesn't succeed in captivating an at least somewhat demanding viewer. This is the result of a plot that is incredibly predictable and despite strong efforts to make it look especially sophisticated doesn't reward you with anything new. In general, there actually doesn't seem to be anything inventive about this Korean flick. For hardcore fans of action entertainment with a good amount of humor kicking in towards the end this may be enough but the boldfaced stealing from many a Hollywood flick makes you forget "Troubleshooter" soon after the credits have rolled. Sadly, there is also quite some talent wasted in this action film, if nothing else that of lead actor Sol Kyung-gu.

Given that everything has been there before would have been somewhat bearable if there weren't so many stupid and incomprehensible actions of the characters as well as numerous plot holes. This already starts with the premise of the story. Tae-shik is framed for a murder. He stands in a room with a body and on a tv screen he sees the real murderer killing a woman. All the time the private eye is equipped with a camera and it doesn't cross his mind to capture the events unfolding on the tv screen?! There is also no murder weapon anywhere near, in fact only later on it is deposited in his office. If Tae-shik had only thought this through a little bit, there wouldn't have been anything that he could have been framed for! Instead he flees the scene and fights through a whole bunch of policemen.

As a fan of action movies you are willing to accept a lot of flimsy reasons, but from that point on you simply can't take the movie serious anymore. If the rest of the film had been a braindead action flick, maybe even not taking itself serious at all, you might have been willing to overlook this, but in fact "Troubleshooter" offers an intricate story revolving around a bank scandal and powerful men (and women) in politics. Unfortunately, here as anywhere else in the movie the story itself isn't that complex, but instead has already been told hundred times before. The only thing that gives the impression that we are served a smart story are loads of names and entanglements. Still, there aren't any real twists, that is since in its framework "Troubleshooter" remains just unoriginal.

Very soon you start to see through the story polished to look complicated and in the ongoing events the truely blindfolded actions of the individuals leave no doubt that the story wants to look smarter than it actually is. The screenplay has been co-written by Ryoo Seung-wan (director of "Arahan" and "City of Violence"), who has also been one of the movie's producers. That's also one of the reasons why we expect more than we get. In the directing of Kwon Hyeok-jae, who is making his debut here, we can also constantly make out Ryoo's signature. Fast-paced, appealing and especially during the action scenes managing to score. What's also typical for him, but rather annoying in this case, is the fact that the movie gets more lighthearted and funny towards the end. And this even though the movie is rather serious in tone otherwise.

It's especially unfortunate that Sol Kyung-gu ("Rikidozan", "Peppermind Candy") is delivering one of his weakest portrayals in a long time. Sol is a great actor, but in this film he easily could have been replaced by any other actor. Accordingly, Oh Dal-su ("Private Eye", "Oldboy") in a supporting role is often outshining him. Still, there is also something positive to note. The fight scenes in the movie are choreographed fantastically. Jeong Doo-hong, who can also be seen acting in movies like "Fighter in the Wind", gives his fights a modern, smash-mouth and very tough look, which makes the adrenalin run through your veins. Sadly, those well done action scenes aren't enough to justify recommending this movie. "Troubleshooter" is a half-baked written action film that can even be tiring because of its lack of inventiveness.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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