can you go for a no-questions-asked organ transplant? If you said China, you
win a free kidney, symbolically speaking of course. However, the dodgy
McHospital Yu-ri’s father has been referred to has a strict bring-your-own-organs
(BYOO) policy. Young-gyu’s gang is supposed to take care of all the messy parts
during the passage over, but things kind of get out of hand in Kim Hong-sun’s Traffickers (trailer here), which Well Go USA
released today on DVD and BluRay.
used to be Korea’s top trafficker in human organs until an incident led to the
very public death of his intended victim and his young protégé. From then on,
he scraped by as a conventional contraband smuggler. Unfortunately, when his
latest shipment is served up to the police, Young-gyu has no choice but get the
old gang back together for another score.
to her, Yu-ri is Young-gyu’s new client. Having arranged through a broker to
have a brand-spanking new heart meet her father at the Chinese hospital, Yu-ri
only knows Young-gyu as the strange man who sometimes initiates awkward,
vaguely threatening conversations. The truth is the smuggler has fallen in love
with the ticket agent during the considerable time he spends in the port, but
being a smooth talking seducer is not one of his many faults.
onboard the slow boat to China, Yu-ri helps the newlywed Sang-ho search for his
missing wheelchair-bound wife Chae-hee. Obviously, she has not given much
thought to where her father’s new heart will come from, but desperation can
lead to short-sightedness. There will also be further coincidences linking the
fateful circle of passengers.
the premise of Traffickers is a
little forced, especially given the substantiated allegations of
state-sponsored organ harvesting in prison camps (why risk attracting outside
attention when you can simply order up a heart from a prisoner of conscience?).
Kim and co-screenwriter Kim Sang-myung go with it nonetheless, focusing on
humanity at its most distressed, building to (yeah, yeah, yeah, mild spoilerish
alert) a real downer of an ending. Yet, somehow the film is still quite
entertaining to watch.
as sort of a riff on The Lady Vanishes,
Traffickers features several tense
near misses and a great action show down. A supporting player who shall remain
nameless also pulls off a massively effective character swerve, earning unrestrained
audience loathing. For his part, Im Chang-jung broods solidly as the world
weary Young-gyu. As usual, Oh Dal-su adds plenty of vinegary grit as Young-gyu’s
soused saw-bones. Although deliberately stiff at first, Yo Joon-hee turns it up
down stretch as Yu-ri.
So yes, organ trafficking is a bad business, no
matter how you might get involved with it. Kim capitalizes on the
claustrophobic ship’s setting rather adroitly and keeps the pace distractingly
brisk. Just about the entire narrative fails the logic test in retrospect, but
viewers really won’t notice in the moment. Recommended for those who enjoy dark
thrillers, Traffickers is now
available on DVD, BluRay, and digital platforms from Well Go USA.
Labels: DVD, Korean Cinema, Organ tourism