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“[FILM REVIEW] KOFFIA 2016 – Veteran (2015)”

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Melbourne, 6 September – While waiting patiently for this year’s edition of the Korean Film Festival in Australia, I was fervently hoping that Veteran would be included in the lineup. After its domestic release last year, the action comedy movie made a huge splash and became the 3rd all-time highest grossing film in Korean cinema history.

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Action cinematic stalwart Hwang Jung-min plays the titular role of veteran detective Seo Do-cheol. In the opening scenes, he displays his expertise by single-handedly taking down a group of rogue car dealers. Employing a variety of tactics from disguise, craftiness and top-notch fighting skills, Do-cheol organises a major raid at a Busan shipyard with backup from his trusty team – long-suffering team leader Oh (Oh Dal-su), feisty Miss Bong (Jang Yoon-ju), Detective Wang (Oh Dae-hwan) and baby-faced rookie Yoon (Kim Shi-hoo).

A chance encounter with conglomerate Shinjin Group heir Jo Tae-oh (Yoo Ah-in) at a party leaves Do-cheol with a bad taste in his mouth. Tae-oh is the typical spoilt rich man’s son with a drug habit, and his enormous sense of self-entitlement borders on psychopathic as he revels in humiliating the people around him. Managing Director Choi (Yoo Hae-jin) is Tae-oh’s right hand man in every aspect, from handing out bribes to silence adversaries to even taking heavy punishment from Tae-oh’s father on his behalf.

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Do-cheol starts coming into direct conflict with Tae-oh after his friend Driver Bae (Jung Woong-in) is severely injured after an altercation in Tae-oh’s office. Sensing that there is more to it than a supposed attempted suicide by Bae, he ignores team leader Oh’s orders to lie low and proceeds to investigate. Throughout the film, Do-cheol is dogged and tough as he fights against corruption as well as Tae-oh’s underhanded methods with pure grit and resourcefulness. He enlists the help of friends in the media and convinces his loyal team members to join the cause. The climax comes near the end in a final, intense car chase across the streets of downtown Seoul and fistfight at Myeongdong, where Do-cheol and Tae-oh come to blows in the culmination of their cat and mouse chase.

Veteran sets itself apart from similar action thrillers with a pretty well-paced plot progression. There were almost no acting holes in this film as every character pulled off their roles with aplomb. Hwang Jung-min was excellent as the wise-cracking, brash but steadfast cop, and it was easy to get behind him on his quest for justice to be served. Having only seen Yoo Ah-in play milder characters, it was a surprise to see him go all out as the ruthless and amoral Tae-oh. In addition to the slick action scenes, there was also plenty of comic relief courtesy of Do-cheol’s team, and special mention to Jang Yoon-ju for her turn as plucky Miss Bong.

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Runtime: 123 minutes

Veteran screening times:

  • Adelaide – 17 September
  • Perth – 24 September

For the full screening schedule and ticketing information, visit www.koffia.com.au! We would like to express our utmost gratitude to the Korean Cultural Centre Australia. 🙂

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