Posted March 21, 2014on:
I picked up this movie today because I like Kim Soo Hyun’s smile, and I have seen so little of that smile in the 3 dramas (tears, on the other hand…. I just have a feeling that he might step into makjang dramas territory realllll soon because he keeps on saying that he loves to have a good cry), I’ve decided that picking this spy movie where his cover = the village idiot is the ticket to seeing more of his teeth. Sure enough, I think he must have flashed them fine teeth (as the village idiot) in the first 45 minutes of this movie more than all of his dramas and other movies put together.
That I actually like this movie came as a surprise to me, since the last 45 minutes of it involved a lot of guns, blood, dead bodies, and ultimately …more dead bodies. Ugh. Well, for what it’s worth, the violence was shot very moodily, a la “Blade Runner” and “Rouruni Kenshin” (the OAV, not the series) sort of way, so the dead bodies are rather poetic. But still. Not my cup of tea on any given day. Today, however, I’m ok with it. Because what this movie’s got, is a boy name Lee Hyun Woo
LHW plays Haejin, the merciless young assassin with puppy-love devotion to his commander Ryu Hwan (played by Kim Soo Hyun). While KSH holds his own splendidly, it’s Hyun Woo who took my heart. LHW plays Haejin with such projection of innocence that you can’t help but root for him. I’ve read that in the webtoon series that this movie is based upon, they really emphasize the yaoi aspect of these two men’s relationship. The movie, understandably, has toned that down a lot, but it leaves you with an unmistakable impression that Hae Jin loves his commander more than just as a soldier or comrade. It is also implied that Ryu Hwan knows this and uses this to control Haejin, mostly to keep down the body count (this kid’s standard response to any challenge = “should I just kill him off? Better if I do”)
And this is where I give Lee Hyun Woo credit – with his child like face, he portrays Hae Jin without any sexual undertone. He is simply happy to be wherever Ryu Hwan (name of KSH’s character) is, or helping out at whatever he can. It’s not platonic because Haejin strives to please Ryu Hwan, but he doesn’t seem to want much in return. Or maybe because the movie is way too short for this sort of development to fully form.
I initially steered clear of this movie because it got a pretty poor review on Dramabeans. Now that I have watched it, I can see why the reviewer was so frustrated with the ending. For me, it’s ok, and it does make sense. These are children who have been raised in a brutal and merciless environment, brainwashed to see themselves merely as means for their leader, so when they are served up with betrayals and confronted with cruel truths all at once, I can make a case for why Ryu Hwan fails to act like a leader, leading up to the fall out. Even if Ryu Hwan were to take charge, it’s already too late the moment he dropped his village idiot’s clothes. RH said in a voice over that he used to live in fear of being abandoned by his Party, because it’s all he’s known. When he did get abandoned and made an orphan by the said same Party, RH is a man who has lost everything and grieves deeply for that loss – at an inappropriate time, that’s a given of course. So him wallowing on the ground is ok with me. The reviewer on Dramabeans complained that his final act of shielding Haejin from, like, 5 bullets (after Haejin took maybe 10 bullets trying to protect RH’s life) was kinda meaningless, but I find it appropriate. I think RH knows that his life is over (he’s already got stabbed in the back and front, kicked & punched into pulp, and a few bullets lodged somewhere in him anyway), but seeing Haejin’s sacrifice wakes him up from his grief, and what he does for Haejin next is out of compassion. He doesn’t want Haejin to die alone, so his final act of shielding Haejin with a hug and then jumping off the rooftop taking the dying Haejin with him is the only remaining meaningful thing he can do for himself and for Haejin – to provide love and comfort in a hopeless situation. The look in Lee Hyun Woo’s eyes says it all.
I’m a Lee Hyun Woo’s fan after this.
Let’s not end on a somber note. Here is the couple, alive and happy behind the scene.
In other news. Kim Soo Hyun is in Taiwan, and I’m thankful that I can once again understand the spoken and captioned Chinese. Woot! My recognition of simplified chinese is getting better though. I got through the famous Super Brain episode with KSH as the guest with about 80% comprehension, since the guests all say very simplistic stuffs and the contestants all sprout math. At least my brain is still useful.