Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Phantom Detective (탐정 홍길동: 사라진 마을)
Released May 4th 2016 (South Korea); May 20th 2016 (US, Canada)
2 hr 5 mins
Not Rated
Crime, Noir
South Korea


Writer & Director: Jo Sung-hee

Lee Je-Hoon as Hong Gil-Dong
Go Ara as President Hwang
Park Geun-Hyung as Kim Byeong-Duk
Kim Sung-Kyun as Kang Sung-Il
Jung Sung-Hwa as Innkeeper
Roh Jeong-Eui as Dong-Yi
Kim Ha-Na as Mal-Soon

Private detective Hong Gil-dong has one goal in life: find the killer who murdered his mother and exact revenge on him. It’s been 20 years since he witnessed the murder and he finally has a name – Kim Byeong-deok. But when he tracks down Kim to a hut in the country, several men already came by earlier and took him away, leaving behind 2 young granddaughters. The girls become Hong’s unlikeliest sidekicks as they once again close in on Kim and the shadowy organization that took him. In order to get his revenge, Hong must uncover the truth behind this organization that has very deep connections to every facet of the country. Little did he know that this is the same group that created both him and his nemesis...

Review by Stephen M.

Phantom Detective which has been playing in limited theaters is in theaters til tomorrow May 26th.  The South Korean noir thriller has quite a few interesting elements that makes it stands out from others of the same genre.  The main character Hong Gil-Dong played brilliantly by Lee Je-Hoon, is an anti-hero that is hard to root for considering his tactics.  It plays well against the grandchildren that he reluctantly teams up with of the person he is tracking to kill.

While the film has its humor to it, the overall tone is decidedly dark.  It reminds me a bit of The Man from UNCLE in its presentation and theme but not as humorous.  As mentioned before, Hong Gil-Dong is not someone you would normally would root for.  But that is what makes the film more enjoyable as you try to figure the character out as he tries to figure out his origins.  The children actors also does an amazing job in the film in their supporting roles to Hong Gil-Dong.  They could not have pick any better in those roles.

Overall, I would recommend this film if you enjoy noir films or any other type of dark offbeat film.  The story seems kind of long and confusing at times which would be my only gripe.  But the ending is especially satisfying as the Director puts everything together with amazing performances but the leads.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

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