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(Movie Review) 'Illang: The Wolf Brigade' eventually loses its way

All Headlines 11:08 July 24, 2018

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- "Illang: The Wolf Brigade," director Kim Jee-woon's live-action adaptation of the popular 1999 Japanese animation "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade," aims to deliver spectacular and thought-provoking sci-fi thrills but gets a bit lost along the way.

The Korean film relocates the setting from '60s post-World War II Japan to South Korea in 2029. With war clouds hanging between China and Japan over a territorial dispute, South and North Korea decide to launch a unified government for their survival.

However, the continuing economic sanctions by powerful nations lead to economic instability in South Korea, which leads to the emergence of a terrorist sect opposing the reunification.

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

The government then launches a special police unit to stop the terrorists. As the state intelligence agency plots to destroy the unit, feeling threatened by its growing influence, Im Joong-kyung (played by Gang Dong-won), a highly trained member of the unit, sees "a girl in a red cape" detonate herself right in front of his eyes.

Joong-kyung visits the girl's older sister, Lee Yoon-hee (played by Han Hyo-joo), to give her the girl in the red cape's belongings. After the encounter, he is torn between his mission that forces him to be a beast and his feelings toward her.

After the press screening of the film Friday, director Kim Jee-woon said he wanted to tell a story of an individual who becomes determined to flee an organization that forces inhumane actions to find his true self. Kim also said he gave the originally dark and depressing film a commercial touch so it can perform well at the box office.

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

Sure, the result is a stylish action thriller with dazzling scenes of gun battles involving men in iron suits and masks, car chases and a high-rise building action scene backed by its star cast that also includes Jung Woo-sung and Choi Min-ho from popular K-pop boy band SHINee.

The problem is its relatively weak story. This lack of connection and overall jarring storytelling robs "Illang" of any suspense.

Most of all, the film falls short of properly delivering the intense inner conflict felt by Joong-kyung, a leading member of the Illang (man-wolf) troops, who are made into lethal human weapons by the government.

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

"Illang" had an admirably ambitious idea of what kind of movie it wanted to be. Unfortunately, it spent so much time trying to recreate the world from the animated movie and remakes it into a big-scale action blockbuster that it never got the simple things right. The romance between Joong-kyung and Yoon-hee is not captivating because the characters and their relationship are not given depth.

The Warner Bros. Korea release is set to premiere in Korea on Wednesday.


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