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INSIDE MEN: THE ORIGINAL
Feb 03, 2020
- Writerby Pierce Conran
2015 | 180 MIN | Crime, Drama
DIRECTOR WOO Min-ho
CAST LEE Byung-hun, CHO Seung-woo, BAEK Yoon-shik, LEE Gyoung-young
RELEASE DATE December 31, 2015
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Director WOO Min-ho and actor LEE Byung-hun are currently lording over the charts in their Lunar New Year hit political drama The Man Standing Next, but it’s not the first or even the second time they’ve done so, following the massive success of Inside Men (2015). The 2015 corruption thriller was originally released in October 2015 in a 130-minute version and after becoming a smash hit with over seven million viewers, fan demand allowed Director WOO to release a 180-minute director’s cut version at the very end of the year (though WOO has mentioned that his original cut was as long as 220 minutes). Director’s cuts do occasionally appear in Korea, particularly in the wake of successful releases, such as A Werewolf Boy (2012) and The Handmaiden (2016) but never had one been so successful, as the extended version welcomed an additional two million viewers, bolstering the film’s total sales to a hefty 9.15 million admissions.
Based on YOON Tae-ho’s popular webtoon, Inside Men (2015) focuses on three main characters, Ahn Sang-goo (LEE Byung-hun), a wily gangster who has steadily risen as a political fixer, his mentor LEE Kang-hee (BAEK Yoon-sik), the editor at an influential newspaper, and WOO Jang-hoon (CHO Seung-woo), an ambitious prosecutor with no powerful connections. When Sang-goo tracks down a document proving that a major corporation has set up a slush fund to elect a congressman (LEE Gyoung-young) as president, beating Jang-hoon to the file, he crosses the wrong people and loses his hand in the process. 18 months later he reemerges working a grunt job, but secretly he’s plotting his revenge as presidential primaries draw close, and before long he aligns with Jang-hoon as the pair are both after the same thing.
An extremely stylish and powerfully acted tale that effectively mines the well-worn corruption themes, Inside Men (2015) was already a superlative Korean thriller, yet the director’s cut, with 50 minutes of additional footage, is an even richer experience that dives deeper into its character and manages to be a more powerful and immersive experience that draws you deeper into the narrative’s stakes and the quirks of its protagonists.
LEE Byung-hun (and his many hairstyles) in particular shines throughout the extra scenes that show us his work and past in more detailing, allowing us to understand what drives him as a character. Yet the extended version also shines a light on the film’s sprawling supporting cast, which, beyond the brilliant BAEK Yoon-sik, the determined CHO Seung-woo and the slimy LEE Gyoung-young, includes terrific turns by BAE Sung-woo, JO Jae-yun, KIM Dae-myeong, JO Woo-jin, LEE El, JUNG Man-sik, KIM Byung-ok, KIM Eui-sung and YU Jae-myeong.