prosecuting a case, Byun Jae-wook bangs on the facts when the facts are on his
side and he bangs on the law when the law is on his side. When he gets stuck,
he bangs on heads, making him all too vulnerable for a nasty frame-up job in
director-screenwriter Lee Il-hyeong’s A
Violent Prosecutor (trailer
which screens during the 2016 New York Asian Film Festival.
all started when a politically connected and mobbed-up (is there really any
difference?) development company sends a pack of provocateurs to crash an
environmental protest. In the ensuing melee, a police officer is badly hurt.
That was not necessarily part of the plan, but it turns public opinion on a
dime. Byun smells a rat, so he does his best to intimidate an asthmatic suspect
into confessing. The lowlife idiot was fine when he left him, but he is
inconveniently dead when Byun returns in the morning, with nary an inhaler in
massively corrupt former deputy chief prosecutor-turned congressional candidate
Woo Jong-il completes the frame-up by disposing of the inhaler and conning Byun
into a guilty plea. Byun will spend the next five years behind bars, but he will
have plenty of time to work on his case. There is only so much Byun can do from
his cell, but pretty boy con artist Han Chi-won will reluctantly serve as his
proxy in exchange for successfully masterminding his appeal.
VP is another monster
box-office hit for Hwang Jung-min, making him one of the most bankable stars in
the world. It is also immediately reassuring to see him strut into a picture.
He is constitutionally incapable of being dull, perhaps because even when he
plays good guys, there is always something slightly off about him. Prosecutor
Byun is a perfect case in point.
Gang Dong-won got most of the press for his lightweight Axel Foley act, it is
the old pros who really shore up VP.
Frequent heavy Park Sung-woong (terrific in For the Emperor) adds rich layers of nuance and uncertainty as Yang Min-woo,
the ambitious prosecutor tempted to do the right thing. Likewise, Lee Sung-min
raises calculated clamminess to an art form as the villainous Woo.
VP starts somewhat slowly and it is more than a
little heavy handed, but the second and third acts are deliciously
entertaining. Lee pulls off one reversal after another, steadily raising the
stakes which each deal. The results are fun and cathartic. Recommended for fans
of “wrong man” thrillers, A Violent
Prosecutor screens tomorrow (7/8) at the SVA Theatre, as part of this
Labels: Hwang Jung-min, Korean Cinema, NYAFF '16, Park Sung-woong