[FILM JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL] Film Review: Confidential Assignment

Jan 26, 2017

In an unprecedented shared action by two hostile nations, Im Cheol-ryung (Hyun Bin), a specially trained North Korean investigator, partners with a South Korean detective, Kang Jin-tae (Yoo Hae-jin), to capture the ruthless leader of a nefarious North Korean operation, Cha Ki-seong (Kim Joo-hyuk), hiding somewhere in the South.

This crisply directed, thoroughly entertaining cop flick benefits from its piquant political implications and the comic Lethal Weapon-type chemistry between ultra-smooth and suave, model-handsome, stone-faced Hyun and the hyperactively mugging, bumbling Yoo. Confidential Assignment has been a big box-office winner in Korea, and one can easily see why. Besides tracking down the bad guy, the cops are mindful as well of their daily, more mundane duties, like saving civilians from knife-wielding attackers on the street, and this motley mix fuels the film with picaresque, vibrant energy. Im has additional stakes in apprehending Cha, who years ago murdered his wife in a counterfeiting scenario which went down badly, and that revenge element adds a necessary emotional weight to the action-packed, chase-and-shootout proceedings.

An entertaining respite from all this noisome pursuit is Kang’s home life, dominated by his wife and spunky, freeloading sister-in-law. Sprightly, attractive K-pop star Yoona plays the latter, and her sassy attitude and remarks are a funny, welcome relief from all that grunting testosterone, and her gob-smacked reaction to Im when Kang first brings him home is almost worth the price of admission.

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