Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Berlin File

The plot may be a challenge to figure out, but this crisply directed spy thriller from Korea holds your attention through its overall smooth professionalism.

Feb 14, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1371838-Berlin_File_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An illegal arms deal taking place in a Berlin hotel becomes anything but a covert operation, as it soon involves South Korean chief of intelligence Jin-soo (Han Suk-kyu), as well as the North Koreans and the American CIA who are all secretly observing the action. When “ghost” agent Jong-seong (Ha Jung-woo) shows up, things become even more tangled, as no one knows whose side he is on. Added to the mix is Myung-soo (Ryoo Seung-bum), a North Korean agent and assassin with his own secret agenda, out to investigate everyone’s exact loyalties. Jong-seong’s wife, Jung-hee (Gianna Jun), who works as a translator at Berlin’s North Korean embassy, also becomes implicated and accused of treason, earning the mistrust of her husband and forcing him to make the ultimate decision.

Here it is 2013 and yet, with The Berlin File, we are very much back in the mid-1960s vibe of such Cold War secret agent films as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Funeral in Berlin. The plot has more twists and turns than those films combined, but writer-director Ryoo Seung-wan, the Korean action master dubbed the “poet of pugilism” by Variety, maintains firm control over the proceedings and turns out a grimly absorbing thriller. The cinematography is appropriately sober, with an evocatively dark palette, and the editing is heartlessly crisp. The film is rife with dire plotting, punctuated by combustible action scenes and impressively executed man-to-man combat, and with Korean, German and English all being spoken on the screen, it has a vivid international flavor.

The acting, by four of Korea’s biggest stars, is uniformly strong, with the guys outdoing one another in taciturn macho and physical prowess. Jun is lovely and intelligent and brings some welcome, softening estrogen to all the grunt-filled bickering and gunplay.


Film Review: The Berlin File

The plot may be a challenge to figure out, but this crisply directed spy thriller from Korea holds your attention through its overall smooth professionalism.

Feb 14, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1371838-Berlin_File_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An illegal arms deal taking place in a Berlin hotel becomes anything but a covert operation, as it soon involves South Korean chief of intelligence Jin-soo (Han Suk-kyu), as well as the North Koreans and the American CIA who are all secretly observing the action. When “ghost” agent Jong-seong (Ha Jung-woo) shows up, things become even more tangled, as no one knows whose side he is on. Added to the mix is Myung-soo (Ryoo Seung-bum), a North Korean agent and assassin with his own secret agenda, out to investigate everyone’s exact loyalties. Jong-seong’s wife, Jung-hee (Gianna Jun), who works as a translator at Berlin’s North Korean embassy, also becomes implicated and accused of treason, earning the mistrust of her husband and forcing him to make the ultimate decision.

Here it is 2013 and yet, with The Berlin File, we are very much back in the mid-1960s vibe of such Cold War secret agent films as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Funeral in Berlin. The plot has more twists and turns than those films combined, but writer-director Ryoo Seung-wan, the Korean action master dubbed the “poet of pugilism” by Variety, maintains firm control over the proceedings and turns out a grimly absorbing thriller. The cinematography is appropriately sober, with an evocatively dark palette, and the editing is heartlessly crisp. The film is rife with dire plotting, punctuated by combustible action scenes and impressively executed man-to-man combat, and with Korean, German and English all being spoken on the screen, it has a vivid international flavor.

The acting, by four of Korea’s biggest stars, is uniformly strong, with the guys outdoing one another in taciturn macho and physical prowess. Jun is lovely and intelligent and brings some welcome, softening estrogen to all the grunt-filled bickering and gunplay.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Film Review: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Venture inside the hallowed hallways of Japan's most prestigious animation studio in this insightful documentary. More »

Antarctica: A  Year On Ice
Film Review: Antarctica: A Year on Ice

Thrilling, award-winning New Zealand doc about the mysterious and forbidding continent at the bottom of the world is not your usual travelogue, but a surprising exploration of the human soul and human needs. Happily, adorable penguins and stunning visuals also get screen time. More »

Remote Area Medical
Film Review: Remote Area Medical

Doc offers in-the-trenches evidence of dire need in the U.S. health-care system. More »

Immortalists
Film Review: The Immortalists

Attention-grabbing subject meets colorful characters in this science doc. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Penguins of Madagascar
Film Review: Penguins of Madagascar

Frenetic vehicle for supporting players from the Madagascar films will entertain kids but prove a little wearying for their parents. More »

imitation game
Film Review: The Imitation Game

Terrific biopic about world-class mathematician and social misfit Alan Turing, who, in spite of a painful struggle with his homosexuality, helped the Allies break the code of the Nazis' Enigma machine. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here