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

E-Team
Film Review: E-Team

Four international human rights investigators descend on political atrocities to determine accountability. More »

Laggies
Film Review: Laggies

Disappointing comedic entry about a late-20s slacker who won’t grow up is writer/filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s first outing directing someone else’s material. Points here for strong cast and an occasional chuckle, but otherwise there’s just no point. More »

Rudderless
Film Review: Rudderless

Well-done indie drama about a lost-soul house painter reborn through rock ’n’ roll is a nice actor’s showcase for star Billy Crudup and an impressive directorial debut for actor William H. Macy. But in spite of some good work onscreen, both hero and story lack the edge and originality to carry this drama beyond respectability. More »

Camp X-Ray
Film Review: Camp X-Ray

Army guard and Guantanamo detainee form a grudging relationship in a thoughtful but far-fetched drama. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Birdman
Film Review: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Virtuosic camerawork and a stellar ensemble of actors more than make up for the occasional moment of portentous twaddle in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's latest—and maybe his best—film. 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