Reviewed by: George Williamson

Korean action movies have been billed as the next big thing, echoing the success of John Woo and Hong Kong cinema of the Nineties, taking the concepts of Western movies and adding a spin all of their own. Unfortunately, Tube isn't one of them.

The plot revolves around our hero's vendetta against "T", the hijack of a commuter subway train and sinister goings on in the government. Jay (Kim Seok-hun) is your traditional loose cannon cop, a rule breaker who gets the job done any way he can, mourning the tragic death of blah-blah. He's a cardboard cut-out character, a mélange of every action hero to have emerged from the last 20 years. With a film such as this, combining elements of Speed, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, The Killer and The Matrix, it is not surprising.

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The romantic interest (Bae Du-na) isn't much better, a tearful pouting pickpocket from the streets, backing up our hero, only to get captured later on. Fortunately, the bad guy "T" (Park Sang-min) is much more fun. The last remaining member of a secret military assassin squad, trained to be a ruthless and effective killer, he's played with a blank coldness that wouldn't be out of place in an early Takeshi Kitano movie.

Fortunately, we are treated to several notable action sequences, involving "T" wiping out small armies of nondescript SWAT guys and lots of Speed-style sequences, as Jay tries to stop the train. Feeling similar to scenes in Face/Off, or The Killer, these encounters are sufficiently violent to keep you interested, but lack the visceral punch of a John Woo movie, being disjointed and poorly shot by comparison. However, the production values are good and the CGI sequences slick, but, as with the rest of the film, lack anything to discern them from a normal Western blockbuster action flick.

Tube is the equivilant of a Korean version of a Jerry Bruckheimer production. You have the completely over-the-top action scenes, the tortured hero, the slushy romantic side story and the entirely more-cool-than-the-hero antagonist.

The bottom line is: fun to watch?

I have to admit that I enjoyed it far more than I should have done and, for its myriad flaws, Tube is still very entertaining. An acceptable popcorn munching no-brainer.

Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2003
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Explosive action thriller set on a Korean subway.
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Director: Baek Woon-Hak

Writer: Baek Woon-Hak

Starring: Kim Seok-hun, Kim Seok-hun (II), Park Sang-min, Bae Du-na, Kwon Oh-jung

Year: 2002

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: South Korea


EIFF 2003

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If you like this, try:

The Killer