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Ko - production in Busan
  • In Focus: The Target
  • by Jason Bechervaise /  May 07, 2014

  • Directed by
    Starring  RYU Seung-ryong, YU Jun-sang, LEE Jin-wook, KIM Sung-ryeong
    Release Date  April 30th
    Remakes are a regular feature in commercial cinema and Korean films are often put in the spotlight when Hollywood decides to give a particular film a makeover. Though it can backfire, as seen with Spike Lee’s Oldboy, it nevertheless remains a tempting prospect for producers and directors alike despite the risks.

    What is far less common, however, is a French film getting remade into a Korean feature, which makes The Target helmed by director CHANG, who last made Death Bell in 2008, an especially curious film due to the fact that it’s a Korean remake of Point Blank (2010) directed by Fred Cavagé.

    Much like Point Blank, the film wastes no time in cranking up the tension as it instantly throws the audience into a chase sequence where a skilled but wounded mercenary named Yeo-hoon (RYU Seung-ryong) is being hunted down by two killers and then inadvertently hits a vehicle and ends up in hospital. There the police discover that he is the prime suspect in a homicide case involving a renowned corporate leader who was found dead. We later find out through flashbacks that Yeo-hoon, after entering an office on an errand, discovered the CEO’s body and was forced to flee.

    Working in the hospital as a medical resident is Tae-jun (LEE Jin-wook), who is perfectly content with the life that he shares with his pregnant wife Hee-joo (JO Yeo-jeong). Things soon take a sharp turn after an intruder breaks into their home and kidnaps his wife, leaving Yeo-hoon unconscious. He later receives a phone call from the kidnapper who turns out to be Yeo-hoon’s younger brother, Sung-hoon (JIN Goo), demanding that Yeo-hoon be released from the hospital in exchange for the safe return of Hee-joo. Tae-jun soon embarks on a dangerous endeavor. Up until this point, the film follows closely to the original in both its relatively strong execution and storyline, but it soon begins to go in a slightly different direction whilst also remaining faithful to the original’s premise of the unlikely pair (Tae-jun & Yeo-hoon), working together to find their loved ones and to expose widespread police corruption.

    While there are plot differences, as illustrated when Yeo-hoon overpowers Tae-jun once he is no longer under police guard, or when Yeo-hoon unceremoniously drives into a police station towards the end of the film in an SUV, it’s the emotional depth that differentiates it from the original.

    Central to the film’s appeal is the relationship between Yeo-hoon and his brother, which is barely explored in Point Blank. Although within the film’s timeline of 36 hours they barely share any screen time, through flashbacks and conversations between other characters, it becomes clear that their relationship is what lies at the heart of the film.

    As an action film, The Target demonstrates that director CHANG is capable of orchestrating a feature of this nature, making the necessary transition from the horror genre where he debuted as a filmmaker with the compelling though flawed Death Bell. There were moments, however, where his lack of experience in this particular genre was evident in the staging of in this particular genre was evident in the staging of the more ambitious sequences which lacked finesse. In terms of the cast, the focus is inevitably on RYU Seung-ryong who has experienced tremendous popularity at the local box office resulting from Miracle in Cell No.7, the hit that went on to amass 12.8 million admissions in which he played a man with learning difficulties. Here he succeeds as an action lead and while perhaps not as convincing as some of his other roles, he continues to reflect his ability to tackle a wide range of characters.

    Other roles are less impressive, such as YU Jun-sang (In Another Country [2012]) who fails to give the necessary intensity for his role, but the characters in the film are generally given more room to develop compared to Cavagé’s 2010 feature.

    Although not the strongest action-thriller the country has produced, its fast pace, short running time and focus on action as well as characterizations make it a potentially appealing feature.
    By Jason Bechervaise(Contributing Editor)
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