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(Movie Review) 'Golden Slumber' loses its way between drama and thriller

All Headlines 16:18 February 08, 2018

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- "Golden Slumber" is a good example of what happens when you try to cram too many things into one film.

Kim Geon-woo (played by Gang Dong-won) is a kind and truehearted courier delivery man. He becomes famous after receiving a "model citizen award" from the police for saving a popular idol singer from a robbery attack.

One day, his high school band friend Mu-yeol (played by Yoon Kye-sang) abruptly visits him after a long time. Mu-yeol disappears after telling his perplexed friend that he will soon be blamed for the assassination of an influential presidential candidate. Then he sees the candidate actually get killed in a bomb attack in Seoul's city center, right before his eyes. Geon-woo barely gives his pursuers the slip but quickly becomes wanted by the police as the prime suspect in the bomb attack.


He then tries to unveil truth behind the case with help from his old friends and Mr. Min (played by Kim Eui-sung), an ex-spy whom he met through Mu-yeol.

The movie, directed by Noh Dong-seok, is a remake of a Japanese film of the same name released in 2010, which was in turn based on the eponymous Japanese novel.

The title comes from the Beatles' famous song "Golden Slumbers," off what was effectively the band's last album "Abbey Road." The song's lyrics reflects its writer Paul McCartney's mind of missing the band's good old days when all the members were on good terms with each other, before its official disbandment. Likewise, the protagonist of the two films always misses his school days and old friends.

A still from "Golden Slumber," provided by CJ Entertainment (Yonhap)

Ostensibly, the new film has all the right ingredients to become a box office hit: heartthrob Gang Dong-won, who is considered one of the most reliable box-office guarantees; a trendy crime thriller genre; a story of friendship and ardent love with a tinge of politics; and nostalgic old pop music in the background.

As a thriller led by Gang, the movie is gripping and watchable, with tense sequences that see Geon-woo roped into trouble far out of his depth. But it appears to have lost balance when it tried to put in as many ingredients as possible. The otherwise natural flow of the runaway man's story is often interrupted by flashbacks to his happy days with other members of his school band, and even by the songs they sung together in the past.

A still from "Golden Slumber," provided by CJ Entertainment (Yonhap)

The resulting film is weaker in terms of story, character and context than the original, which focused on the value of friendship and belief through the story of an average lower middle-class citizen overcoming his troubles with help from his old friends, colleagues and neighbors.

The remake only superficially describes Geon-woo's relationships with his friends. So audiences don't really understand why Mu-yeol opts to sacrifice himself instead of his friend Geon-woo, whom he hadn't kept in touch with for a long time. This loose stitching diminishes the persuasiveness of the whole story.

Presented by CJ Entertainment, "Golden Slumber" hits theaters on Feb. 14.


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