is cheap, organs are expense. That is the principle driving a woman with a rare
blood type and her quest for payback. She is willing to pay quite dearly to avenge
her husband and daughter, offering her organs as a reward in Jeong Yeon-shik’s The Fives (trailer here), which screened
during the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival.
Eun-a was once a strict mother and somewhat scoldish wife. Tragically, her life
turned upside-down when her pre-teen daughter Ga-yeong recognized an older fellow
music student with her so-called “Uncle,” serial killer Oh Jae-uk. After dispensing
with his intended victim, Oh tracks down the family, brutally murdering
Ga-yeong and her father. However, the mother survives, destined to spend the
rest of her days confined to a wheelchair.
her doctor coveted her heart for his ailing daughter, she strikes a dire
bargain: find four other patients or family members with specialized skills to
help her track, capture, and execute her family’s murderer in exchange for what
they need. It will be deeply-indebted police technician Park Jeong-ha’s job to ferret
him out online, engineer-thief Nam-cheol to shadow and verify, former gangster
Jang Dae-ho to be the muscle, and the shifty doc will perform their promised transplants.
Of course, their undertaking gets considerably more complicated when Oh starts
hunting his hunters.
The Fives represents a bit
of Korean cinema history as the first film adaptation of a web comic directed
by its original creator. Nevertheless, the dark tale of revenge and moral angst
follows in a long tradition of Korean thrillers, including recently Lee Jung-ho’s Broken and Kim Kwang-sik’s Tabloid Truth. While The Five is not as emotionally resonant
as Broken, it is tough to match its
pitch black heart.
in its way, Fives is more sympathetic
in its treatment of Evangelicals, particularly Hye-jin the volunteer trying to
minister to Go, than most recent Korean imports. Oh, the metrosexual hipster
artist, is also the sort of serial killer you are not likely to see in a
Hollywood thriller anytime soon. It is sort of like watching the evil twin of
quirky indie comedy—exceptionally evil.
Sun-a is all kinds of intense as Go, while Park Hyo-joo is truly heartbreaking
as Hye-jin. Ma Dong-seok, Shin Jung-keun, Lee Chung-ah nicely flesh out Jang,
Na-cheol, and Park, giving them an identity beyond their plot function.
However, Jung In-gi’s craven sawbones is a bit cringy. Oddly, On Joo-wan is so
spectral-like as Oh, it is hard to render a full judgment on his work.
Even though Go has a highly cinematic talent for
lethal Rube Goldberg constructions, The
Fives is pretty down to earth by the standards of the genre. Jeong clearly
prefers to keep the action up-close-and-personal rather than mount extravagant
spectacles. He keeps viewers looked in, even though its bleak portrayal of
human nature is exhausting. Recommended for fans of vigilante and serial killer
movies, The Fives is likely to
develop legs following its Canadian premiere at this year’s Fantasia, which
wraps up today (8/7) with screenings of the ridiculously entertaining Zombeavers and the devastating Han Gong-ju.
Labels: Fantasia '14, Korean Cinema, Serial killer movies