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  Deliver Us from Evil In Need Of Rescue
Year: 2020
Director: Hong Won-Chan
Stars: Hwang Jung-min, Lee Jung-jae, Park Jung-min, Choi Moon, Hakuryu, Tomonori Mizuno, Oh Dae-hwan, Vithaya Pansringarm, Park Meong-hoon, Park So-yi, Kosuke Toyohara
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In-nam (Hwang Jung-min) is a Korean hitman whose most recent kill has resulted in an unexpected, but not really unprecedented, effect: the brother of the gangster he killed is Ray (Lee Jung-jae) and he is a gangster too. He is also bent on revenge if he can possibly secure it, but for In-nam, this concern will have to wait, for he receives word from Japan, where an ex-girlfriend lives with her daughter, that she has been targeted by a gang who have kidnapped the little girl (Park So-yi). When she contacts the police, they are wondering if it's a case of a runaway because no ransom has been sought, but there's a reason for that - an utterly awful reason. Can In-nam arrive in time to save the girl from her fate, or will he be too late?

Director Hong Won-Chan had been making his mark on the South Korean cinema scene with a series of scripts, including such gems as The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, but obviously, as in many an ambitious screenwriter's career, he wanted to turn to direction, and this was his second film in that vein as well as the one that garnered him more attention. When it boiled down it was more or less a straightforward pursuit thriller, with a race against time element threaded throughout as the child is on peril from that most Asian of villains, the organ traffickers, so our hero (anti-hero?) must track her down across Bangkok where she has been spirited away to before her heart is cut out and sold to the highest bidder. Her mother is out of the picture early on.

Director Hong made great play of emphasising the vulnerability of the girl, all to tug mightily at the audience's heartstrings and contrast with the very violent men who have both captured her and indeed are trying to save her, and if you had any ounce of sentimentality in your body then you would find your sympathies stirred by her plight. Not only hers, as halfway through In-nam meets a group of imprisoned kids who have either had an organ removed or are about to have, illustrating that it's not just privileged children who have a superhuman hitman as their guardian angel who can endure this horror, the vast majority are poverty-stricken and lifelong victims, however long that tragic life will last. It was a note of ringing social conscience in a film that largely preferred tense stand-offs and high energy action sequences instead of introspection.

That action was undoubtedly well-arranged, and increased in volume the further the movie progressed, which made up for a surprisingly uncertain beginning where it took a good half hour for the proceedings to find their feet. But once you had established who was who and what relation they were to the other characters, it grew in confidence, and while you would have preferred it to hit the ground running, if you were patient enough to persevere with it then you would be rewarded. Also worth noting was another Korean star, Park Jung-min, playing a nightclub artiste who prefers to identify as a woman, and can be bribed to help In-man with the promise of funding a gender reassignment operation. She already has a child from a previous relationship, and through the course of the plot has her, well, paternal feelings reawakened (assuming they were there in the first place) as she is forced to take care of youngsters in a manner that her actual offspring never inspired her to. But those interesting quirks aside, mostly you would be here for the action, and the two headliners did not disappoint - yes, they were playing close to cliche, but they did so with flair and style. Music by Mowg.

[Signature Entertainment presents Deliver Us From Evil on Digital 4th January 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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