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Ko - production in Busan
  • In Focus: Broken
  • by KIM Se-yoon /  Apr 07, 2014
    Directed by LEE Jeong-ho
    Starring JUNG Jae-young, LEE Sung-min
    Release Date April 10
    A man didn’t have much going for him. His job as a factory manager required him to spend sleepless nights beside an endlessly running machine, and trying to meet requirements was demanding. He also wasn't able to earn very much, working for a company that was stingy with pay and greedy with workload. There was no chance for him to get a breather in life like others could.
    The man had a daughter. Raising her without a mother was a challenge, but he was proud of her for having grown up so well. He worked hard for her sake and managed to bear it all. In other words, Soo-jin was everything to this man who didn't have much.
    The film Broken tells the story of the tragedy this man faces when he loses his everything, his daughter. Right after he buries Soo-jin in his heart, he grabs a baseball bat to avenge her murder. He swings a knife at an accomplice and hunts down the last violator to point a gun at him. He has chosen to take matters into his own hands in place of the law that hesitated in taking any affirmative action. 
    So far, this may seem like a conventional story that falls into the personal vendetta theme constantly repeated in Korean cinema. There have been numerous Korean films dealing with crazed parents getting blood on their hands. Unfortunately, there aren't many good films justifying and sympathizing with the actions of parents who've lost everything. Broken seems to be the opposite with enough qualities for it to join a limited list of good films.
    Japanese author HIGASHINO Keigo's 2008 work is well adapted into a story that could have been easily taken as one written by a Korean writer in 2014. An adaptation is like piling up coins that could knock down the structure of the original story by just placing a sloppy element on top. Fortunately, unlike the literal meaning of the Korean title 'Hovering Blade,' director LEE Jeong-ho is successful in coming up with a screenplay that is far from 'hovering.'  The film engraves a piercing question in every footstep the father makes as he limps through the Daegwalryong snowfields. Are children always weak and adults strong? Can a reality failing to claim responsibility for an accountable crime just because the perpetrator is a minor be validated? Should all acts of individual retribution in place of the law be considered unjust? And accordingly, should this man… be seen as a victim or a perpetrator?
    Actor JUNG Jae-young is outstanding in showing the confused face of a good-hearted father who commits criminal deeds. LEE Sung-min represents the weary faces of everyone in the present as he plays the police officer who is responsible for protecting the teenage perpetrators from the victim's father. The young actors playing the perpetrators are also commendable. To add to this well-weaved tale is the lonely back of a father trudging through the snow fields, running through a dense row of birch trees, and the howling sounds of piercing winter winds. When the line "No life remains for a parent who has lost their child" echoes along images of bleakness, a symbolic cut representing a time when lonely souls are forced to wallow in deeper loneliness is completed.
    In piling coins, it is the person who piles well that matters, not the amount. Broken doesn't attempt to pile too much, but focuses on piling a common and familiar story well. And because of this, it manages to become a good film.
    By KIM Se-yoon(Contributing Editor)
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