Eye For An Eye

Eye For An Eye


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

If there’s one thing the movies have taught us, it’s that cops should never plan on quitting. The ink on their resignation/retirement letters never seems to dry before some nasty criminal pops up to stop them going gently into obscurity.

Clearly Captain Baek Sung-chan (Sol Kyung-gu) has never seen High Noon, Se7en or co-director Kang Woo-Suk's Public Enemy 3, since he's planning to ditch law enforcement in favour of stamping out bugs of the six-legged variety. "I just need to catch one and it's over," he says, lamenting the lot of a prison system which releases criminals back on the streets, only so that they have to be caught once again.

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But plans for the extermination business have to be put on hold when a criminal gang carry out a brilliant gold heist, stealing 600kg of the shiny stuff from under the noses of police - with the ringleader posing as Baek to do it. Baek is sent a package of cash the next day, from the thief Ahn Hyeon-min (Cha Seung-wo) and, to add insult to injury, the businessman from whom the cash has been stolen is, in Baek's opinion, a criminal who 'got away'. But as Baek tries to track down the gang, he discovers he is little more than a pawn in a game of revenge.

Begun by Ahn Kwon-tae and completed by Kang, its impossible to see the join between the film's two directors and the end result is steeped in style. The look deliberately evokes the slick heist manoeuvres from the likes of Ocean's 11, while the use of split screen harks back to Sixties style capers. Initially Eye For An Eye seems to being utterly driven by its narrative - we are thrust into the middle of the heist with no set up and this is not the sort of film where the bad guy provides a step-by-step guide to their plans. But Kang and fellow co-writer Jing Jang pull of a clever sleight of hand, managing to fold pieces of characterisation and back story into the mix without slowing down the action, so we begin at once to understand the nature of the crime as well as the modus operandii, long after the initial robbery takes place.

The result is a relentlessly paced ride, which finds time to flesh out the sort of conflicted characters trying to outwit one another more usually found in Michael Mannn's films. Morally, everything is - like Baek's clothing and hair - in shades of grey. Is Ahn really a master criminal or a man fully justified in his actions - and what sort of lengths are Baek and the robbed tycoon prepared to go to in order to get a result?

Although occasionally moving so fast as to leave you reeling from the plot's cross and double-cross and sometimes slipping on its own slickness, this is an enjoyable romp that will benefit from being seen on the big screen.

Reviewed on: 17 May 2009
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Slick heist thriller sees a retiring cop track a robber who impersonated him.
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Director: Kyung-Taek Kwak, Ahn Kwon-tae

Writer: Ahn Kwon-tae, Kim Dong-Woo, Kwak Kyung-Taek

Starring: Cha Seung-won, Han Suk-kyu, Jeong In-gi, Kim Ji-seok

Year: 2008

Runtime: 101 minutes

Country: South Korea


Terracotta 2009

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