The Yellow Sea (2011)
The Yellow Sea follows Gu-nam (Ha Jung-Woo), a cab driver from this region who embarks on an assassination mission to South Korea in order to pay off his mounting debt as well as search for his missing wife. He takes on the job without knowing much about his target and soon finds himself in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy as he begins to uncover a vicious trap of betrayal and lies. Framed for the murder he did not commit, Gu-nam is chased down by the police as well as those responsible for this mess - a ruthless mob boss (Cho Seong-Ha) and a tenacious assassin (Kim Yun-Seok). All hell breaks loose as gangsters and killers clash and collide in a game of hunt-or-be-hunted. -- (C) Showbox … More
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Critic Reviews for The Yellow Sea
A breakneck mix of bone-crunching freneticism and bloody close-quarters knife-fighting with a strand of romantic melancholy.
A rush of a movie from South Korea that slips and slides from horror to humor on rivers of blood and offers the haunting image of a man, primitive incarnate, beating other men with an enormous, gnawed-over meat bone.
The Yellow Sea is far less interested in character than in choreographing pursuit scenes spiced with Asia Extreme levels of violence.
Writer-director Na Hong-Jin achieves a vibe of urban desolation right off the bat, and deepens the mayhem with acutely observed and charged details about illegal-immigrant life.
A listless succession of brutal, consequence-free stabbings encase a pair of lengthy chase set pieces, both technically adept, both utterly ridiculous.
Although the central story is compelling, even fans of this ultra-violent genre might find The Yellow Sea (the water between China and Korea) is too long and dark, especially given the way the leading characters wear black at night.
Probably the year's best crime drama and might be confirmation that there is a new master of the genre, spinning tough as teak tales, ready to emerge
a gripping existentialist thriller, where jealousy, greed and desperation lead inexorably to a chaos of carnage, and where exile and death cross their borders to merge into an emotionally-charged sequence of final images.
At nearly two and a half hours long, The Yellow Sea is overkill in every sense.
Perhaps The Yellow Sea does not really hang together, and, yes, it could perhaps have lost 30 minutes. But its power and bite-strength are impressive.
I was never bored, it's fast and funny and edge-of-the-seat tense; it's just that I'd still like to see the end of the film it started off being.
Frenzy is fine, but a little bit more clarity, at least narratively speaking, would have been nice.
An exhilarating film with action that is breathtakingly kinetic and visceral.
An epic noir thriller that contains no small amount of excitement, it suggests that Na might well be the best action director currently working in Korea.
Audience Reviews for The Yellow Sea
Na Hong-jin's The Yellow Sea is a crafted Korean crime thriller.The 2 hour 15 minute run time is lengthy, especially when the plot details get sketchy. The 4 chapter story does contain some good storytelling, but things can become elusive with a wealth of characters to focus on. Nonetheless, the plot twists come in at opportune times and the cloudiness of what comes next as the story progresses works in the film's favor.Aside from the story, the gritty and realistic violence, full of knives and hatchets, is a pleasant surprise and in high abundance. The destructive vehicle sequences are the icing on the cake.Ha Jung-woo is a convincing neutral protagonist. A lot of blood comes at the hands of Kim Yun-seok.Once the final scene, which occurs in the closing credits, is over, The Yellow Sea finds itself as a recommendable picture out of Korea.More
Na Hong Jin brings us his second feature after the dark and disturbing The Chaser. The Yellow Sea is a complex character piece that sees a man from Yanji City travel to South Korea to kill a man in order to pay off his missing wife's debts. Like The Chaser, this is also a film that mixes fast paced action and gritty realistic violence. In many ways The Yellow Sea is a lot like a poor man's Bourne, but not in terms of production quality. As Gu Nam travels to Seoul it isn't by plane in a fancy suit, he's herded into a ship in a room with dozens of other people, freezing and sick not everyone makes it. Gu Nam takes his time over the kill and it shows his inexperience. Of course, Gu Nam is really there to search for his missing wife but as things escalate so does the action. Incredible chases on foot and by car elevate this thriller to something that really does thrust a man on the run thriller into the real world. As the film progresses more and more people find themselves involved in the hunt for Gu Nam it's rather humorous to see him quite oblivious to those after him. The Yellow Sea sees the tragic places people from the almost ignored Yanji City find themselves in. Love and dedication are the main themes but are hidden behind an exhilarating wall of delicately crafted action sequences. Brilliant.More
Liked it up to half way through, then felt like a totally different movie, too many characters, couldn't follow it at all. (or maybe it's just it was very late and I was tired...).More
Unlike the highly overrated "The Chaser" the story here makes sense, and there's not a bunch of silly coincidences, or clinically stupid cops. There's still some dumb cops, but the movie has a more convincing setting and characters. The problem is that, at some point, it becomes a long series of fight and chase sequences, where the protagonist, and the main antagonist, keep getting wounded, stabbed and what not over and over, without any real consequences to their bodies. This turns the movie into a cartoon, and from that point it becomes difficult to take it seriously. Again, just like the chaser, cheap thrills instead of real human drama, or effective characters.
With a proper script, Mr Hong-Jin Na he could do something good. We'll have to wait for that day to arrive.
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