Detective Choi’s latest investigation represents something of a conflict of
interest. He is under considerable professional and political pressure to close
the case quickly, regardless of the truth. Technically, he also happens to be
the killer, but you would hardly call him the mastermind of screenwriter-director
Baek Woon-hak’s dark thriller The
Chronicles of Evil (trailer
which opens this Friday in Queens.
years of plugging, Det. Choi is on the verge of a national appointment. He has
just received the presidential service medal, so if he can avoid entanglements
for the next few months, his career should be made. Unfortunately, after a night
celebrating with the Detective Squad, Choi’s cabbie waylays him, taking him to
a remote park, where he tries to kill the baffled flatfoot. Leathery old Choi
turns out to be more than his assailant can handle. However, after killing the
man in self-defense, Choi covers up the incident rather than risk the
inevitable controversy. This will be a mistake in retrospect.
next morning, the top brass is outraged when a corpse is found very publically
dangling from a crane at a construction site. Of course, Choi recognizes him.
To satisfy his superiors, he will have to clear the case quickly, but he knows
the DNA under the vic’s fingernails and the blurry CTV images of a passenger in
backseat will inevitably lead back to him. Therefore Choi must try to ferret
out his mystery antagonist, while struggling to cover his own tracks.
a way, Chronicles somewhat parallels
Kevin Costner’s breakout hit No Way Out,
but Baek gives the story some grittily distinctive cops-and-stalkers twists. He
shrewdly positions Choi as a figure compromised enough to deserve his
predicament, but decent enough to root for. Baek nicely keeps one darned thing
coming after another, getting flat-out Biblical down the stretch.
to genre fans from Huh Jung’s Hide and Seek,
Son Hyun-joo is perfectly cast as Det. Choi. He looks like a migraine
personified and has vinegary world weariness sweating out of every pore. Ma
Dong-seok (a.k.a. Don Lee) is also reliably charismatic and hardnosed as Choi’s
chief deputy, Det. Oh. This is a manly ensemble that has little time for
romantic subplots or comic relief. They are all about covering-up and settling
scores. When you spy a somewhat metrosexual character, be suspicious—very suspicious.
Baek is a wickedly smooth director, who pulls
the audience through this murky morality tale at warp speed. Even though it is
a supporting role, Chronicles (along
with The Fives, Kundo, and Nameless Gangster) suggests Ma/Lee has
enough cult/genre credibility for Hollywood to start calling. They could use
someone with his action cred and screen presence. Highly recommended for fans
of anti-heroic cop thrillers, The
Chronicles of Evil opens this Friday (5/22) at the AMC Bay Terrace, in
Labels: Cop Movies, Korean Cinema, Ma Dong-seok