By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- "A Man of Reason" features a variety of stylish action scenes to tell the story of a former gangster's struggle to rescue his kidnapped daughter, but it certainly deserves better storytelling to make the effort worthwhile.
Jung Woo-sung stars as the protagonist of his feature directorial debut, demonstrating his proven expertise in the genre with thrilling action sequences, including bomb explosions, car chases, gun fights and fist and knife fights.
But the action sequences are not backed by strong characters or compelling narratives, with the film failing to explain why the protagonist is so determined to rescue his daughter, beyond his obsession with blood ties.
The story follows Suhyuk (played by Jung), a former gang member who is released after 10 years in prison on behalf of his boss Eungkook (Park Sung-woong) and belatedly discovers that he is the father of a young girl.
Suhyuk wants to cut ties with the crime syndicate to be part of his daughter's life, but Eungkook's henchman Sungjun (Kim Jun-han) hires a professional killer, Woo-jin (Kim Nam-gil), to kill him.
Despite his wish to live a normal life, Suhyuk is once again dragged back into the world of violence when his wife dies in a car crash and his daughter is kidnapped by Woojin's colleague, Jina (Park Yu-na).
Following a familiar and cliche-laden story in the early part, the movie unfolds daring and explosive action as Suhyuk embarks on a perilous journey to get his daughter back.
The enraged man takes hostage the hit man, fights off a roomful of gangsters and dodges bullets. In one sequence, his old BMW 3 sedan passes through multiple bombs in a tunnel just like a hero who never dies.
On the other hand, Woojin, a notorious killer with a 100 percent success rate, is an idiosyncratic villain who doesn't match his target at all. He is an impulsive maniac who doesn't care about the consequences of his behavior, but he affectionately takes care of his dog and goldfish.
Another villain, Sungjun, considers Suhyuk an eyesore and tries to eliminate him, but he turns out to be a pathetic man full of feelings of inferiority and anxiety about his status in the group.
Although Suhyuk is in danger due to his former associates and takes risks to save his daughter, the reticent man is mostly detached from other characters. He doesn't have enough time to form a bond with his family, and little is known about his relationship with other gangs except that he deeply regrets his dark past.
As a seasoned actor who has starred in several action films, including "Hunt" (2022), "Steel Rain," (2017) and "The City of Madness" (2016), Jung conveys the soul of a man who is stuck in an inevitable dilemma and presents well-choreographed fight scenes.
In one flashback sequence, he takes down several gang members in a dark room with just a knife and a lantern, highlighting his long legs, slender figure and elegant movement.
The film is worth watching for those who are curious about Jung's feature directorial debut influenced by his tone and manner in the gangster genre.
"A Man of Reason" will hit local theaters Aug. 15.
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