This year’s London Korean Film Festival had a special evening lined up for fans of Korean actor Jung Woo Sung. In one night, there were two films shown. The first was police action thriller Cold Eyes and the second was Jung Woo Sung’s debut as a film director The Killer Behind The Old Man.
Cold Eyes is a remake of the 2007 Hong Kong film Eye In The Sky. Han Hyo Joo plays Ha Yoon Joo – a rookie recruit who has just joined the Korean Police Forces Special Crime Department that focus on surveying the activities of criminals amongst the streets.
Working alongside the strict, blunt training of Police Inspector Hwang (Sol Kyung Gu) and the rest of the surveillance team, which includes Lee Junho of 2PM, Yoon Joo assists in tracking down a criminal by the name of James (Jung Woo Sung) who happens to be the leader of an armed robbery organisation.
The entire film is undoubtedly a game of cat and mouse. The police try to keep tabs on the criminals who attempt to organise their robberies without being too suspicious. The surveillance team also try to be appear inconspicuous as they work on the field and report back to the HQ to confirm suspect sightings. But in addition to the intense chases and “catch me if you can” scenarios, there is character depth to sink your teeth into thanks to the cast.
Han Yoo Joo manages to bring out the ‘newbie’ / ‘rookie’ nature of Yoon Joo but also add extra layers to the character. Yoon Joo is like any young newcomer starting a new job, trying to learn the ins and outs of the organisation and keeping her emotions in check when on duty and has her moments where she can break. But her strengths lie in memorising her surroundings and reporting them to Police Inspector Hwang at fast speed.
Hwang is like the Yoda and uses his years of working as a policeman to guide young Yoon Joo to making the right decisions and not missing any minor details. His team work with Yoon Joo is hilarious and Sol Kyung Gu provides a large amount of humour within Cold Eyes thanks to the witty lines in the script. However even with the bluntness and random outbursts of anger, Inspector Hwang shows he does care for his team in the most serious moments.
As for the film’s villain…this happens to Jung Woo Sung’s first time playing a bad guy. James is cold but charismatic. He always speaks calmly yet capable of turning cruelly violent. However viewers are presented with glimpses of the character’s background that goes past the heartless nature that his minions and the police force are familiar with. This perhaps makes the villain rather fascinating as it may make the viewer try to dissect his character in great detail, especially with the limited information provided in the film.
As someone who has seen “Eye In The Sky”, the question that remains is whether “Cold Eyes” was a faithful remake. I definitely think it is. There are indeed some small changes when it comes to characters or storylines to divert “Cold Eyes” from being considered a direct copy of the original. “Cold Eyes” pushes it further with the level of violence and action-packed scenes.
Another thing to point out – the special cameo of another popular actor at the end of the film was brilliant. Without spoiling things, it is to do with “Eye In The Sky.”
Trailer for Cold Eyes
After the rollercoaster ride of “Cold Eyes”, fans in Odeon West End were then treated to The Killer Behind The Old Man, which was part of the Three Charmed Lives series that consisted of three short films by three notable Asian actors. Continuing the theme of killers in the same night, “The Killer Behind The Old Man” stars Andy Choi who plays a hitman hired to kill an elderly man.
Yet after witnessing how frail his intended victim is, the hitman holds back and delays this intentional assassination. Like the old man, everything around the hitman moves at a very slow pace. While delaying the kill, he’s getting on with his own activities such as enjoying a nice dinner alone and contemplating in the darkly lit living room of his home.
If we ignore the style substance and the fact this is Jung Woo Sung’s first film directional debut, “The Killer Behind The Old Man” presents quite a few question marks from start to finish. Why does this hitman suddenly get emotional? Has he gotten a conscience? There isn’t much we can take in straight away considering this film is approximately 30 minutes. The ending is open and leaves the viewers wondering what will happen next. Will the hitman just get on with another task? Will he quit his job? Quite an underwhelming way to end the film there. Jung Woo Sung will hopefully continue to pursue more projects as a director in the near future, having directed MVs in the past. It’ll surely be interesting to see what he comes up with.
Did you manage to attend the Jung Woo Sung screenings at LKFF? What did you think of these films? We’ll have some photos from the Q+A session ready in another post.