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Review: ‘Hindsight,’ Not Worth Looking Back At

BUSAN, South Korea — I'm very trusting when it comes to the always outstanding Song Kang-ho, one of Korea's very best actors.  After all, the man has starred in several of my favorite Korean films, not the least of which is director Bong Joon-ho's crime-drama masterpiece, 'Memories of Murder'.  Color me completely astonished, then, when I found myself walking out roughly fifty-minutes in to Song Kang-ho's latest, 'Hindsight'.

Given the overwhelmingly negative box office response, I probably should have known better.  This is a shallow, artificial, and offensively stupid film, with absolutely no redeeming qualities to it's name.  The always charismatic Song Kang-ho can't rise above the atrocious dialogue (a fault of the subtitle translation, maybe?) and one dimensional characterizations.  

The plot is conceived in the most inane manner, with every cheesy gangster movie cliche firmly in place.  Not a single actor is given a line of dialogue that is worth anything beyond pure exposition; this is some of the most insultingly bad writing I've ever seen in a Korean film.

The opening scene gives the immediate impression that director Lee Hyeon-seung has no sense of tone; the image is cleaner than anything found in a 'Star Wars' prequel.  Clearly shot on digital HD, director Lee enjoys photographing Busan for his backdrop, always working hard to make everything look pristine.

Tranlated literally from Korean, the title is "Blue Salt." However, the official international title is "Hindsight."

The film serves as a complete glamorization of the typical gangster.  The characters lack all believability, especially the female leads who are caked in ten pounds of whore make-up.  Director Lee indulges far too much in style, purely for the sake of it.  The problem is, his style is nothing more than trashy pop-fluff, coming across like a poor man’s Kim Jee-woon.  Again, everything feels so phony, so blatantly plastic, that one can't help but cringe.  I won't even try to explain the absurd plot or the ridiculous characters.  To give you a frame of reference as to how ill conceived all of it is, it involves names such as "The Haeundae Gang" and some guy called "One-eye".  It's a new level of cheesiness.

It's been eleven years since director Lee Hyeon-seung's last effort, 'Il Mare', and whatever kept him away for so long is clearly showing in 'Hindsight'.  The man needs to reinstate his hiatus for another decade and avoid being a pawn in the creation of soulless products such as this.  Unfortunately, he's somehow managed to rope Song Kang-ho into this embarrassment, and not even a great actor such as him can elevate the material to any redeemable level.  It's complete schlock that is best swept under the rug and forgotten as quickly as possible.  Song Kang-ho certainly deserves a better script than this, and next time he's advised to actually read one before agreeing to star in it.  

This film wasn’t even worth fifty-minutes of my time, but I gave it that much so you don’t have to.  There are far better films that deserve your attention at this year’s BIFF, and far better Korean films from years past which I’m sure some of you still need to get around to watching.

Code Theater Date
294 CGV Centum City Starium Oct 12 10:00
611 MegaBox Haeundae 7 Oct 8 16:30
607 MegaBox Haeundae 6 Oct 8 16:30  
650 MegaBox Haeundae M Oct 9 20:00


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