TUBE (2003-KOREA)
review by Neo


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A Kollywood Flick
Hollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood, Korean cinema has never looked more Hollywood than the 2003’s high budget action/chase flick – Tube. Simply, the feeling that you feel and get is so Hollywood that with a single brink of an eye, you would have thought that way. However, the good news is that, while Hollywood movies 8/10 are crap, this one leads in the better proportion, meaning a good, fun, unbelievable, yet fulfilling ride. What set this movie apart from, normal and routine Hollywood flick is a good heart felt ending and despite being largely unbelievable someone can be that heroic and brave, the movie succeeds by cheating the audience heart. Lucky it is also what made the film worked and a fitting finish to an unbelievable or over the top thrilling ride.

The movie goes like this: One man must put his life on the line to stop a speeding subway. A fearsome race begins at 200 km per hour for two hours of white-knuckle Korean action in the thriller "Tube" written and directed by Baek Woon-hak in 2003. Jang Do-jun (Kim Suk-hoon), a disgraced former agent, chooses to serve on the subway police squad after a police operation that cost him the love of his life and his trust towards his corrupt supervisor. On the other hand, Kang Ki-taek (Park Sang-min), an ex-government agent in quest of revenge, kills the mayor of Seoul and hijacks a subway train full of innocent passengers. An all-out war is inevitable between the subway terrorist holding a city hostage and the detective risking his life to save others in the face of extreme danger in this breath-taking non-stop actioner.

There is something about Korean flicks that makes them immensely watch able, even though it stayed with a tried and true formula; perhaps, it is the actors, the directors or the higher budget – whatever it is: it certainly made The Tube a better movie that it really deserves. The flick deals to an uncanny resemblance/forecast of the terrorist bombing in London’s trains and this one follows very much the same suit. The flick started off, dwelling around the existential philosophy about love and finding, but instead of a romantic drama, what we get is action/stunts filled two hours that will leave most action fans satisfy. What most action movies fail, this movie does best, by attempting to add a romantic core to it, before cheating the audience by churning out an outright heroic yet sympathetic ending. The good news is, it actually worked.

The performances from the male lead is what Neo would say as “pretty cool” and the way the cigarette is position and not lighted is cheesy, but it somehow bring something more to a pretty underdeveloped character apart from being outright selflessly heroic. As for the female lead, she plays her role in a tough and rough manner, while adding a hint of sweetness within her character, that make her immensely likable in Neo’s honest opinion. As for the villain, he is definitely worth hating, but one aspect the film’s fails is its failure to put more insight of the reasons behind the terrorist’s actions – apart from plain revenge and corrupted government.

Although the film due with some sort of political issues, such as corruption within Korean government and the operations of CIA type of murderers and perhaps a bit of censorship, none of these were actually shown with much depth and appeared as nothing more than a glorified cameo appearance. Sure this is an action movie with good stunts and chase scenes, but a little more depth would definitely have lifted the movie up a higher standard than a mindless yet exciting ride.

All in all, Tube is not the normal Korean action flick, but rather one that follows the suit of Hollywood’s Die Hard and a long list of pretenders. While it isn’t original or entirely crowd pleasing, it is a type of movie that can be labeled as very much manufactured for the box office. While it has received mixed results at the Korean box office, the movie can be claimed to be a sort of success, as while they might not be able to cheat to audience to think this is instant cinema’s classics, it does incredibly well in cheating them into a pretty heroic and sympathetic mood. With all the talk about this movie is more like Kollywood, we must remind you all that this movie was released in the States and boy – and sure you will know why.

I rate it 8/10

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Genre: Action/Thriller
Director: Baek Woon-hak
Cast: Park Sang Min | Kim Suk Hoon | Bae Du Na
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), August 2005