Jung Woo-sung’s “A Man of Reason” Falls Short as a Hitman Thriller

Movie Bunker Score:
3/5

A Man of Reason

Release: 2023-08-15Genre: ActionDuration: 103 minsBudget: $ 0
Overview

After 10 years of incarceration on behalf of his employer, all Su-hyuk wants is a normal life - one he hopes will include his former girlfriend, Min-seo, and their daughter, In-bi. But once you've penetrated the upper echelons of the underworld, normal can prove hard to come by. Sometime in the past decade, meanwhile, Su-hyuk's employer has adopted an air of legitimacy. These days, the old gang steal and murder in the name of urban development. And they want the reluctant Su-hyuk on board.

A Man of Reason

Release: 2023-08-15Genre: ActionDuration: 103 minsBudget: $ 0
Overview

After 10 years of incarceration on behalf of his employer, all Su-hyuk wants is a normal life - one he hopes will include his former girlfriend, Min-seo, and their daughter, In-bi. But once you've penetrated the upper echelons of the underworld, normal can prove hard to come by. Sometime in the past decade, meanwhile, Su-hyuk's employer has adopted an air of legitimacy. These days, the old gang steal and murder in the name of urban development. And they want the reluctant Su-hyuk on board.

In an ambitious departure from his on-screen exploits, Korean action star Jung Woo-sung directs “A Man of Reason,” an action thriller that, despite its visually stunning sequences, ultimately fails to deliver a compelling hitman narrative. The film, showcased at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, struggles to captivate audiences due to its lackluster protagonist and a narrative that fails to live up to the potential hinted at in its gripping opening scene.

Jung, renowned for his roles in films like “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” takes on the role of Su-hyuk, a retired assassin recently released from a decade-long prison sentence. The initial promise of the film is evident in the dynamic opening sequence, where Su-hyuk showcases his lethal skills in a dimly lit confrontation with a crime boss. However, this momentum dissipates as the film delves into Su-hyuk’s post-prison life.

The plot follows Su-hyuk’s attempt to leave his dark past behind, focusing on his desire to care for his daughter and rekindle his relationship with his former love, Min-seo. Unfortunately, the film stumbles as it introduces generic archetypes, such as the sniveling underling Kang and two unhinged assassins, creating a narrative that lacks the depth needed to sustain the film’s tension and propel the story forward.

While Jung’s directorial skills shine through in the film’s aesthetics, with captivating cinematography and well-choreographed fight sequences reminiscent of Korean genre standards, the script falls short in character development. The titular character, Su-hyuk, remains a one-dimensional figure, lacking the complexity and charisma that would elevate him beyond the stereotypical “man-in-black” archetype.

The film draws inevitable comparisons to Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive,” with Su-hyuk utilizing his car as a weapon, similar to Ryan Gosling’s stoic character. However, unlike “Drive,” “A Man of Reason” fails to establish Su-hyuk as a memorable and intriguing antihero. The lack of a compelling backstory and the absence of a reputation preceding Su-hyuk contribute to his character’s generic and unremarkable nature.

Despite its seductive visuals and well-executed action sequences, “A Man of Reason” falls short in creating a lasting impact. The film’s cerebral approach and thin character development result in a forgettable experience, leaving audiences yearning for more substance. In the end, the film’s grade of C reflects its failure to meet the expectations set by its talented cast and visually appealing direction. As “A Man of Reason” seeks U.S. distribution, it remains to be seen whether it can find an audience beyond its initial disappointment at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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