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South Korea 2003


Baek Woon-Hak

Kim Seok-hun
Bae Du-na
Park Sang-min
Kwon Oh-jung
Sa Hyon-Jin
Son Byung-ho
Jeong Jun

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Story: Jay (Kim Seok-hun) is a broken individual, a cop who is searching for his wife's murder, terrorist T (Park Sang-min) for years already. By now he had to endure numerous lectures of his superiors who scold him, because of his brutal investigation methods and the unnecessary violence involved in his arrestings.
He is living a dire existence, but one day he meets pickpocket Kay (Bae Du-na), who doesn't only have feelings for Jay, but even spies on him and steals his wallet. By using his key, she gets into his apartment, where she finds out a little bit more about him. Among other things she also sees a photo of T, which is why she immediately calls Jay when she sees T taking the same train the mayor is riding that day.
In fact, T isn't up to no good. He takes control over the train and threatens to kill everyone on it, if the government isn't willing to pay the price for its past crimes. T was a member of a special unit of the government, which was designed to take care of every dirty job that had to be done in secret, until the government decided to get rid of them so that no information about it would get to the outside. T is the only survivor and he wants revenge. However, he didn't reckon with Jay, his long-term rival, being on the train, too...

Review: "Tube" is lavishly produced action-trash of the worst kind. The producers most likely gathered together for one night and watched movies like "Speed", "Die Hard" and "Money Train". After that they came to the conclusion: "Hey, let's do this, too. We'll write the script in our cigarette break." They look for a suitable actor and soon find someone who could be the brother of Chow Yun-fat. Now, nothing can go wrong, can it?
Well, here's the truth: The movie may provide you with some decent action, but the rest of it just fails to deliver completely. There are so many far-fetched moments that you will frequently smite your forehead.

The opening sequence is already full of adrenaline-loaden action. The villians fight their way through a whole army of SWAT-teams without any effort and they don't even catch a single bullet on the open field. That is until our hero enters the stage, of course. Naturally, there is no need to reload, and after the culprits have managed to escape the scene, Jay has to listen to his superior's comments about how ruthless and incapable he is as a cop. Serving a few cool lines in between, the script tries to get us on Jay's side as soon as possible, which is not that difficult, as we are already used to sympathize with a shabby and broken hero. Unfortunately, Jay isn't one of those interesting and maybe even multilayered individuals of Hong Kong's 80s flicks, but an airheaded Hollywood wanna-be hero. Although we learn about his past in several flashbacks throughout the film, he remains a cliché of a character, of which filmmakers made use way too often already. Including the obligative worn-out background story and the sole motive of revenge.

However, it does get worse than this. Kay is supposed to be responsible for the emotional impact of the movie, including your standard love story. But actually, these scenes just stand in the movie's way and drag down the pacing. Furthermore, Kay always looks like a stupid little girl, who fell in love for the first time in her life. Still, she prefers to spy after her beloved instead of revealing her true feelings to him. Bae Du-na ("The Host", "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance") is really a good actress, but you don't get to see anything of it here. She is merely supposed to look cute and stand at our heroes side whenever necessary. Even if this means to oppose T, who just so happens to be unwilling to shot her for whatever reasons, although Kay continuously puts obstacles in his way. This is even the more odd, as T proves on several occasions that he doesn't care who he has to shot in order to achieve his goals. Which also brings us to the biggest flaw of "Tube".

You seldomly get to see so much nonsense as in this movie. I'm absolutely willing to overlook certain unrealistic scenes if it serves the movie's coolness factor or if it just fits into the world the film is depicting. "Tube", however, just goes too far. Jay jumps on the moving train at least three times without dislocating his shoulder even once or to suffer any kind of injury. He saves himself from being overrun by approaching trains in the last millisecond possible, is clinging on the outside of the train at a speed of 130 mph and manages with one hand to get himself back into the train while at the same time performing a mid-air kick. Meanwhile, the villian behaves completely unrealistic and refrains from using his gun to get rid of his enemy. And for some reasons the hostages also don't think that it would be a good idea to overpower T after he threw away his weapon.
I already mentioned the incapable SWAT-gunmen, but it doesn't stop there at all when it comes to clichés. We also have superiors who get into our heroes way, and Jay is even saved by a piece of metal in his breast pocket. Well, if this isn't original then I don't know what is...
I could continue this endless list of ridiculous scenes, but I won't, for your and my sake. After a while it just gets painful seeing this stuff and at some point we don't even have the energy to groan about it anymore.

Granted, tanks to a Hans Zimmer-like score and a fast pacing, there are some thrilling moments, too, but somehow we just don't care what happens to the characters. T is ok as a villian and the idea that the evil government is indirectly to blame for what's happening, whereas it even wants to go as far as to blow up the train so that T will take the harmful information he has into his grave, is a nice idea, but it can't save this painfully uninventive story which lacks any depth. The characters are also incredibly flat and can never arouse the viewer's interest. The action, even though not choreographed in any special way, can somewhat keep the pot boiling with its fast pacing and the noisy boom-effects, but in the end it's all absolutely predictable, unrealistic and laughable, so that we just wish for the film to finally end. At least there is an interesting development of events at the end, which we surely wouldn't have seen of a Hollywood flick. Still, that can't save the movie anymore either.

With its entertaining value "Tube" may have deserved a slightly better rating with its polished looks and the lavishly produced action scenes, but the movie annoyed me in so many ways that I just can't give it any better rating. It's obvious that you should check your brain at the door when watching a stupid action flick like this, but "Tube" just offends our mental abilities. And for this your mental abilities even don't have to be that great...
Hardcore Action-fans may take a look at it, but don't say I didn't warn you. At times, the movie may prove to be entertaining, and maybe I even got carried away a bit with my criticism, but to be honest, the film almost begs to be torn to pieces by a critic!
Bottom line: "Tube" is silly action stuff and those who have a few brain cells to rub together will find this to be a bad flick, too.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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