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Confidential Assignment [2017] - Film

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Confidential Assignment - Wikipedia



Confidential Assignment




Director: Kim Sung Hoon
Writer: Kim Hyun Ho


Main Cast: Hyun Bin, Yoo Hae Jin, Kim Joo Hyuk






Hyun Bin had left for the military after the massive success of ‘Secret Garden’ as his final drama plus two critically well received films, ‘Come Rain, Come Shine’ and ‘Late Autumn’. After he came back from the military, however, he struggled with his projects. He was criticized in his comeback project, the movie Fatal Encounter (20140, as well as in his comeback drama, Hyde, Jekyll, and Me (2015).


His next project after those was this movie, Confidential Assignment (2017) which was well received and made him a bona fide action star.


At its heart, Confidential Assignment plays with the popular movie leading man trope of the solitary ex-special forces supersoldier who becomes an avenger, e.g. Ajusshi/Man From Nowhere starring Won Bin, The Suspect starring Gong Yoo. However, the movie turned this on its head by turning Confidential Assignment into a bromance movie with strong comedic elements which utilized its co-stars Hyun Bin and Yoo Hae Jin comic timing to alleviate the inherent darkness of a revenge movie and made the redemption an overall lighter, more hopeful affair.


The Plot:
Im Cheol Ryung (Hyun Bin) is a North Korean officer in charge of special investigations. His fiancee is also a member of the unit, and as the movie opens we find that she is pregnant with their child. They investigate a warehouse that is printing counterfeit US dollars when they run across Cheol Ryung’s superior officer Cha Ki Seong (Kim Joo Hyuk) who is there with his own team to steal the counterfeit plates for themselves. A shootout occurs where Cheol Ryung is shot and others are killed including his fiancee and unborn child. Afterwards, Cheol Ryung is tortured and suspected of having been part of the conspiracy to steal the plates.


The North Korean officials then find out that Cha Ki Seong has fled to South Korea with the plates, and the first ever North-South Korean investigation team is put together to apprehend Cha Ki Seong since he is a dangerous killer. The counterfeit plates are not mentioned, however, since North Korea wants them back. Cheol Ryung is given the assignment to capture Cha Ki Seong and bring the plates back within 3 days.


In South Korea, Cheol Ryung is partnered up with Detective Kang Jin Tae (Yoo Hae Jin), an experienced detective who feels he is in a rut and is trying to figure out how to get promoted. Jin Tae is leery about being partnered up with a North Korean, and also has been told that his role is to keep Cheol Ryung distracted so that the NIS can track Cha Ki Seong and figure out what is really going on as well as potentially make a deal with him.


Jin Tae does his best to try to keep Cheol Ryung otherwise engaged, but Cheol Ryung is literally a man with a mission. He wants to find Cha Ki Seong, not only because it’s his assignment, but also because he had killed his woman and unborn child. As much as Jin Tae does to hamper him, Cheol Ryung finds creative ways to get away from Jin Tae and continue his investigations into finding Cha Ki Seong. In an effort to keep Cheol Ryung in check, Jin Tae even invites Cheol Ryung to sleep at his house instead of in his austere hotel room.


At his house, Jin Tae’s family (wife, daughter, and sister-in-law) are taken with Cheol Ryung mostly because of how handsome he is, with Jin Tae’s young sister-in-law Min Young (Yoonah) forming an instant crush him. However, the more important thing is that within Jin Tae’s boisterous and loving household, Cheol Ryung and Jin Tae start to talk and to feel an affinity with each other, 2 cops trying to do their respective jobs and to be true to who they are.


Jin Tae and Cheol Ryung decide to really go after Cha Ki Seong together, with both of them having each other’s backs. Later on, when Jin Tae’s wife and daughter are endangered by Cha Ki Seong, Cheol Ryung comes to Jin Tae’s aid.


The Review:
This movie made me look at all three actors Hyn Bin, Yoo Hae Jin, and Kim Joo Hyuk with new appreciation. Hyun Bin looked cooler and more manly in this movie than I had seen him before and was a precursor to his role in the drama Crash Landing On You. He definitely seemed to have put his time in the Marines to good use.

He was already an impressive actor before, but he carried himself with more assurance in this movie, moving with athletic grace and purpose while doing his own stunt work and making it look fluid and assured. It made me realize that  Hyun Bin could be an action star while also being a very good actor with very good timing, both comic and dramatic, rather than just hiding behind a series of action stunts. 

This movie was about more than just the action. The plotting is good and the pacing fast but with purpose. The fight scenes were really good, with some moves that made me want to applaud in admiration. The fight choreography was definitely tight, and the other stunt work still holds up well. There is an abseil scene that I just loved, both in the stunt work, but also how it worked in the context of the movie.

However, what made this movie really enjoyable was in the characterizations of the three lead characters. And, in this sense, Yoo Hae Jin totally rocked as the veteran cop who is somewhat jaded and a bit cynical, but still trying to do his job as well as he can, being a decent person and detective and also trying to balance out his family life and work life. Also, YHJ carried most of the comedic elements in this movie contrasting with Hyun Bin's straight, somber, revenge-orientation of his role and Kim Joo Hyuk's dark menace in his. However, each character has texture with both flaws and sympathy inducing elements.


Cheol Ryung is a bit of an ex-idealist but still ingrained with an ultra-patriotism that doesn't recognize the flaws of his political leaders too clearly, and carrying the feelings of vengeance on a personal level that interferes with his training as a super soldier and now cop who has committed to carrying out his duties.


Cha Ki Seong is probably the most interesting character, despite having the least screen time. On the one hand, he is a cold-blooded murderer who brooks no opposition or hint of betrayal and feels no remorse in getting rid of anything and anyone that he wants to, however he may also be a failed idealist and is now looking out for his own self interest, and those of the men who followed him out of the North Korean army when he left. At the very least, he is someone who has come to despise the government he had served, and the hypocrisy that they promote. Not that he respects any other government or even organized crime, so basically any organization that isn't his. 


The movie is full of enjoyable and interesting interactions between characters with the first and foremost being the slowly growing bromance between Jin Tae and Cheol Ryung. Second cutest, however, is the relationship between Jin Tae and his daughter with Jin Tae half-jokingly trying to gain an admissible place of affection with his daughter and the daughter being a bit demanding and nagging of her father. You have to see it perhaps to understand how cute of a father-daughter relationship it was. It was a surprisingly nuanced and touching relationship. There are other bromantic relationships and even bits of romantic relationships that further flesh out the various characters, though romance itself is does not play a huge part of this movie.

One final comment about the title of this film. Unfortunately, they decided on an English title which I thought wasn't quite the same title in Korean. The Korean title actually translates to "cooperation" or a "joint action", basically alluding to North and South Korea agreeing to work together which was much more indicative of Cheol Ryung and Jin Tae working together than the more generic "Confidential Assignment" title.


Plot/Story - 9
Cast/Acting - 9 (some of the supporting characters were questionable)
Production Values - 9
Re-watch Value - 10 (I loved this movie enough that I watched it in the movie theaters at the time, then bought it when it was released to home media.)
Overall - 9 if you’re a fan of action movies, 8 otherwise because the action element is pretty integral to appreciating this movie, but still enjoyable to watch. Also, this is the movie which turned me into a huge Hyun Bin fan.

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