Secretly, Greatly is a 2013 action comedy-drama film starring popular actors such as Kim Soo-hyun, Park Ki-woong, and Lee Hyun-woo; which all have frequently been in top slot TV dramas like ‘Dream high’ and ‘The Moon that embraces the Sun’.
Won-ryu (Kim Soo-hyun), assimilating a village idiot as the residents call him is actually an elite North Korean captain and spy who has been dispatched to South Korea awaiting orders. After 2 years undercover, suddenly another two North Korean soldiers, Hae-rang (Park Ki-woong) disguised as a singer/musician and Hye-jin (Lee Hyun-woo) who respects and admires Won-ryu greatly disguised as a high school student appear in the village. This gives Won-ryu suspicion that something is awry for then an order comes for all the spies to commit suicide. The three betray orders reluctantly to get answers as to why this order was sent out, while being chased by their own countries soldiers because of the betrayal. The film is based on a 2010 online comic series, ‘Covertness’ by popular author and illustrator Hun (online nickname).
There are many mixed reviews I’ve seen of this film but for me, I enjoyed it to the point where I felt connected with the characters and even cried at the somber elements.The typical comical flare in the first half of the two hour film, while still having its serious underlining message of the North/South conflict, builds up each characters story and attachment with each other. Leading onto the second half, the more serious and somber it becomes. The sudden order to commit suicide have them battling with themselves to follow through with their countries wish or betray it in search of an answer and put themselves in danger. Unfortunately, the hope of a happy ending is slashed to pieces slowly as we see our leads face ordeals and the inevitable once they find their answer. The acting is superb in my opinion and the script really draws on the emotional attachment to the many characters we see through the film which broadens out the involvement everyone has to each other and how it affects them.
There’s an obvious audience attraction with the attractive and popular male leads, which brought in a flurry of teenagers when the film was released earlier this year. But, as I can see why and how the film was so popular, I wonder if foreigners would have had the same view. The North/South conflict is probably by far what most foreigners know about South Korea, and the portrayal of the North Korean soldiers being committed to their country and somewhat heartless, probably doesn’t help the stereotype in which this film brings. This blend of comedy/action/conflict, upon hearing it sounds dubious that it could actually produce such a versatile and interesting story for which brings a strong message of perseverance and emotional connection people have on each other.
As with any review, the best way to know about the film is to see it for yourself, with ‘Secretly, Greatly’ being a definite one to put onto your list of must watches.
Rating: 8.5 / 10
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