DIFF 2013 Film Review: A Company Man ; love, action, remorse, revenge, comedic moments and the sublime So Ji-sub

acompanymanmpMovie Review By: Mut Asheru

“Is anyone really happy with their job?!”, expresses Ji Hyeong-Do’s (지형도) boss during the climatic fight scene in Writer/Director Lim Sang-yoon’s (임상윤) action, thriller A COMPANY MAN (회사원). The answer to that question is the crux of the movie. Good-looking monosyllabic Ji Hyeong-Do (So Ji-sub) obtained the ever respectable company job. That phrase that sounds good rolling off your tongue when someone asks where you work. A company…any company is usually a good thing, even if it is for contract-killers-are-us. It says you’ve arrived and achieved the American…or in this case Korean dream.

With A COMPANY MAN, Lim Sang-yoon’s script cleverly plays us, while entertaining us, on our materialistic needs and standards. Life is a contact sport and as the film opens we’re in the car getting to know Hyeong-Do and his young subordinate Ra-hoon (Kim Dong- Jun) and we like them instantly. After we’ve spent some time quickly building an amiable rapport with the two we learn through action just what it is they do for a living. They kill people. We should be appalled. But they’re just so darn well-mannered…like regular upstanding citizens. They’re just doing their job. “It’s just work”, says Hyeong-Do as he betrays his comrade. But before he can carry out killing his co-worker he’s asked for a favor. That favor sets Hyeong-Do down the path of love, revenge, pain and hope. But before he can dare hope to have a life outside of killing people he must resign from the company. Easier said than done.

Lim’s film, cinematically, is a very solid work. And So Ji-sub (sub is for sublime) through his expressive eyes does an excellent job of making his character likeable. He appeals to our emotions as well as our minds. We could conceivably be this guy or know him. Every character is expertly expressed in action and frame.

Action wise. There could be more fight scenes for us fight happy folks. However, the balance between action and non is good. The fight coordinator gets kudos for choreographing quick, precise moves that dismantle and/or protect in the interest of time. These people have a job to do and time is always of the essence in their line of work. The fights accurately convey their sense of urgency and need to be economical in their movements.

A COMPANY MAN succeeds visually in conveying the overall mood and taint of the company’s line of work. It’s colored in a drab light which helps us feel the boredom Hyeong-Do is feeling with his daily existence. There are pops of color yellows and reds when we’re supposed to feel something other than ho-hum. I’m assuming. There was a bird, looked like a seagull…I think it represented the need (like Lenny Kravitz) to get away. I’m guessing. I will have to watch a couple more time to fully digest all the subtle nuances of the film. That’s no problem. I can do it. The movie is really freakin good. There’s love, action, remorse, revenge, comedic moments and the sublime So Ji-sub.

Director: Lim Sang-yun (임상윤)
Cast: So Ji-sub (소지섭), Lee Mi-youn (이미연), Kwak Do-won (곽도원), Lee Geung-young (이경영), Kim Dong-jun (김동준)

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