Movie: The Yellow Sea
Director: Hong-Jin NaRating: ****
There are lines in all our lives that we’re not supposed to cross. Likewise, Jung-Woo Ha, a cab driver in North Korea too had a line that he was not supposed to cross. But, he did and what followed was something he’d never anticipated even in his wildest dreams. The line in his life was ‘The Yellow Sea’, and the day he crossed it his life changed forever.
Jung-Woo Ha is a cab driver in Yanji city, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. Besides driving cab every day, Jung spends his evenings playing mah-jong, a type of gambling, hoping to earn some extra cash but keeps losing consistently. He hasn’t heard from his wife for a while ever since she moved to Korean to make some money. Desperate to meet his wife Jung comes in contact with a hitman who proposes to pay off all his debts and help him reunite with his wife, just for one hit. Will Jung take up the job or not and what repercussions will he have to face forms the rest of the story?
The film is unique in many ways and extremely disturbing for its portrayal of blood and violence. The tension in the film is built gradually, step by step, leading up to the climax in its 157 minutes running time. The best part of the film is that it never appears long and boring because besides maintaining the tension throughout, the director successfully introduces new twists in to the story at regular intervals. And when finally every twist and moments of tension come together, one of the best climaxes unfolds for the viewers.
The film is unique because Jung travels beyond the Yellow sea to finish what he was asked for and bring back his wife however when he discovers what was about to happen, it was not anymore ‘let me finish my job and come back’ type of task. It was something big and bad beyond his imagination and he gets pulled in to it. So, the fight for survival now becomes the fight for the truth by clearing his name.
I loved the direction for two reasons – firstly, for maintaining momentum with utmost carefulness and secondly for allowing the viewer to actually don the hat of an investigator and solve the case he’s seeing on-screen. I mean, if it’s not brilliance, what you call a director’s ability to actually make a film as engaging as possible.
The violence may be too much for lively-hearted. But, this is the kind of violence you’d want to watch. It’s different! They don’t use guns; they use sickles, axes and even big, eaten off bone of a goat or some animal. It’s gruesome but definitely an experience worth a shot.
In essence; ‘The Yellow Sea’ is a film that teaches you sometimes in life it’s important to set things straight, flush out the truth in the fight for survival.