Directed by RYOO Seung-wan
By HAN Sun hee
As the ‘Action Kid’ of the new millennium, RYOO Seungwan has been representing the young generation of Korean cinema. The 6 feature films he has directed so far were either homage to the history of genre films (Arahan , Dachimawa Lee ), or tended to be the action film version of realism where low lives fight for their survival (The City of Violence, Crying Fist ). At this point passing through a decade since his debut as a film director, RYOO Seung-wan is standing on a turning point, trying to make a different approach to a world he has never touched upon until now. The film emphasizing the world where the highest elites are networked instead of the low lives and stressing the noir-drama rather than experimenting on action genre, is just what The Unjust is.
The screenplay written by The Showdown ’s director PARK Hun-jeong expands centering on the dual between the police and the prosecution. Homicide detective CHOI Chul-gi (HWANG Jung-min, Blades of Blood ) has the highest arrest rate in his department but his name never makes it on the promotion list as he is not a police university graduate. When a prime suspect of a high profiled serial murder case dies during the arrest, high officials of the police agency order Chul-gi to pull some strings to ‘create’ a trustworthy new suspect. For his successful career, Chul-gi decides to seize the chance and makes a deal with JANG Seok-gu (YOO Hae-jin), the boss of a gang he has been investigating and fabricate the suspect. Their moves fail to flow smoothly as JU Yang (RYOO Seung-bum), a young and ambitious prosecutor finds out about the plan. JU is being sponsored by JANG’s rival gang and for his own interest he watches Chul-gi under the microscope.
This is just the beginning of a more complicated story. With a cop trying to manipulate things to make someone a suspect of a serial murder case, The Unjust talks of various interests of different characters and their confrontations and unjust exchanges. The connection between the cop, the prosecutor and the mobs involved here cannot be summarized in a word or two. The film shows the chain effect where trivial delinquency will result in actions that are even worse through countless figures. As this personal trade of the cop and the prosecutor becomes involved with a bigger gang, the situation turns into a big inescapable swamp of entanglement.
In fact, the subject of cops or prosecutors from The Unjust is nothing foreign in Korean cinema. Even now, big and small incidents involving these two groups often make the news in Korean society. Accordingly The Unjust may seem like a Déjà vu for Korean audiences. Still the film shouldn’t be categorized as a thriller with social messages. Rather, it focuses on personal desire for survival and success, and follows how such desire came to exist in these characters, how the longings break and perish as they confront the organization. This is why RYOO Seung-wan compares the world in The Unjust to the crime novels by James ELLROY or Dennis LEHANE. Instead of presenting stylish actions, RYOO has chosen to create a concentrated drama focusing on the characters’ emotions set under the splendid yet barren backdrop of Seoul.
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