The Movie Binge

Review: Typhoon


In case you didn't read the preview, Typhoon deals with a baddy North Korean, Sin, who steals, kills and connives his way into the possession of some nuclear waste, which he plans on dumping on all of Korea. A dutiful wooden South Korean soldier by the name of Gang Se-Jong, is assigned to take out the North Korean, and they both realize that had circumstances not been different they could have been playing checkers and listening to Neil Young, or the Korean equivalent of such. This realization does not stop them and their compatriots from putting a lot of bullets into each other and a bunch of innocent bystanders.

The plot device that drives the story forward is the baddy North Korean's sister, Choi Myeong-ju. As the bathos spewing terminally ill victim, she should have been the humanizing window into Mr. Nuclear Pirate Pants' pain. It's through her that we get the flashbacks allowing us to see where Sin's motivation comes from. But her acting...let's just say when she croaked I was relieved I wouldn't have to watch her flail about anymore.

One could say this film works as a primer into the zeitgeist of current North-South relations, but that would truly be a disservice to millions of people that I've never met. The twisted logic employed by agents at every level on both sides was the antithesis of pragmatism. It made me wonder if those jokers could cook themselves breakfast without shooting holes in their frying pan and spouting off about honor and brotherhood. Let it be said, the Americans make a very convincing cameo as an impatient submarine that blows shit up. If I were to take the film's tack, this should be viewed as a shameful avoidance of the nuance of stone faced crying and knife fights.

Two positive aspects: a) The final scene on the ship was well designed and well filmed. The action was kinetic engaging, until of course everyone started crying. b) The flashbacks mattered, if only because the onscreen portrayal of no-nonsense massacre is so different from the rest of the stylized blood and guts that is supposed to be entertaining in other parts of Typhoon. Why play it straight when someone gets shot in the back and not when someone gets shot in the face? This movie almost had something there.

I should probably say that the theater was packed with 75% of the crowd being Korean, and when we were all filing out I noticed more than a few were genuinely touched people. Maybe something was lost in the translation. What I saw was a heavyhanded mediocre action movie.