Yay! I can finally watch this movie! I was super excited about it finally getting subbed and uploaded, but then Murphy told me that it was definitely not what we first expected it to be. That made me wonder, so I decided to watch the trailer again and decide what I thought that the movie would be about.
From the trailer that I watched, I felt that it gave me 40% funny undercover antics and 60% super intense spy movie. So that's the expectation that I have right now, an almost equal amount, but more intense than funny. I'm am also going to try my hand at recapping the whole movie instead of just the beginning like I did for Spellbound. Let's do this.
We start out in North Korea where we meet Won Ryu Hwan (Kim Soo Hyun) and Kim Tae Won (Son Hyun Joo). Ryu Hwan is going on a mission to South Korea and Tae Won tells him that when they meet again it will either be as friends or as enemies and also tells Ryu Hwan not to die, but if he does, to do so as a hero.
Fast forward two years and Ryu Hwan is being bullied by little boys and can't do anything about it because it would blow his cover. When he is waiting for the ambush, we have a bit of a Sherlock Holmes moment as he calculates the weight and velocity of the rock that is about to bean him in the head. We learn that the facade that he has put on is that of an unemployable idiot named Dong Gu and I am totally okay with that because he is probably going to be an extreme version of Song Sam Dong from Dream High and I was always on team Sam Dong.
Ryu Hwan works at a small convenience store that is in the middle of the town so that he can watch what everyone does. It is kind of hysterical to see him interact with all the people in the town because as they mock him, he has to do his Goofy laugh and smile, but inside he's thinking about all the ways he will use to destroy them. The only thing that he can do at the moment is put more meat in his bowl than it that of the woman that cares for him who runs the convenience store. Oh man, you are hard core. We also get a cameo by Choi Woo Shik, yay!
It turns out that Ryu Hwan isn't alone in the city though, we meet Seo Sang Goo (Ko Chang Seok) who has been undercover in the town for sixteen years. He doesn't seem to mind though and even says his new life is better than the one that he left behind in North Korea. Why is he so happy? Because he was promoted to staff in the SISTAR fan club. He is living the life. Sang Goo tells Ryu Hwan that he should try to enjoy himself while he is in the South, as much as his idiot character will let him, because why not?
In our next scene it is raining and Ryu Hwan decides that it is time to get his revenge on the two kids that are constantly tormenting him. He comes out from an alleyway waving his arms, making strange noises, and hugging himself. He's not going to do what I think he is right? RIGHT? Yep, he does. He squats down, drops his drawers, and gross noises ensue. Everything is going according to plan until the woman that he has a crush on also happens to walk by and see what is happening. Cue dramatic thunder and lightening and "Goodbye.....my youth."
As Ryu Hwan is finishing his pushups, someone named Lee Hae Rang (Park Ki Woong) comes to his door and greets Ryu Hwan. Hae Rang bends down to untie his shoes, but it is all just a ploy to take a shot at Ryu Hwan, Ryu Hwan retaliates and their quick hand to hand fight eventually ends in a stale mate.
Hae Rang doesn't have any particular mission other than a mission to releave his own boredom. He also says the North Korean officials probably don't trust Ryu Hwan any more because he has been in enemy territory for so long. This, of course, doesn't make Ryu Hwan very happy, but Hae Rang doesn't care and leaves Ryu Hwan to think about what he has just said.
The next day, Ryu Hwan sees that Hae Rang is on the move and decides to follow him. As he continues to follow Hae Rang, he runs into Sang Goo and takes his uniform and scooter for easier pursuit. Question, why does Ryu Hwan look so good in a man that is much larger than him's clothes?
It turns out Hae Rang has gone to an audition to play his guitar. He gets up on stage and plays a chord and then makes the "rock on" sign. We've got a winner over here.
Later that night as Ryu Hwan is fixing his pants, because Sang Goo stretched them out, one of the little boys comes crying and knocking at his door. He says that his brother went out to use the bathroom and never came back. As the whole town begins to search, Ryu Hwan thinks that the situation might be more than a boy getting lost. He then gets his Dark Knight on and stands on a rooftop hoping to hear the little boy cry out so he can follow the sound.
It's kind of cute, his twisted sense of honor, even though he is out to destroy these people. He thinks that this is his town and only he is allowed to hit those boys.
He eventually hears the boy's cry and goes after it. While running after the sound, he decides he needs a disguise and grabs some random clothes as he runs by. Should I be worried that whatever he just grabbed has a leopard print?
One of North Korea's top spies, ladies and gentleman.
He is spotted by the searchers but is able to get away by scaling a wall.
It turns out that the little boy followed the barber Mr. Park, but everyone now thinks that Mr. Park is actually the hero who saved the boy from a pervert.
Cut to men in suits talking dramatically about a secret force called Force 5446 that was created by Kim Jong Il 16 years ago. The man says that the members of this organization are furious animals and those that "don't oblige will be idiot hostages." So basically, loose your humanity or loose your life. Is there an option C?
And back to the village. Sang Goo tells Ryu Hwan that his assignment has been ended and that he has been ordered to return. Sang Goo asks for one favor though, Ryu Hwan's gun. Ryu Hwan asks for a reason and Sang Goo says that his family was caught while trying to escape to China. This does not sit well with Ryu Hwan and he asks Sang Goo if he is going to betray the Republic.
Sang Goo cries that he can't remember his family's face and that with the gun he will kill some South Korean officials and then commit suicide because this will allow his family to live.
At the moment Sang Goo pulls his trigger, another is also being pulled. This one belongs to a sniper aiming his gun at the before mentioned dramatic men and hits the man who was talking about the secret force at the window. I don't know who this sniper is, but he looks suspiciously like Lee Hyun Woo and I don't know how I feel about that.
Cut back to Sang Goo and Ryu Hwan and Sang Goo is furiously pulling the trigger of the bullet-less gun as Ryu Hwan chastises him, asking him why would he have loaded guns. I'm kind of glad about this because it would have caused some issues if a gun went off in the town idiots room. Also, I'm kind of against people blowing their brains out, ya know? Ryu Hwan goes on to call Sang Goo nothing more than a South Korean Ahjusshi. Ouch.
The men back at the building decide that it is time to create a force that can track down the members of the deadly 5446.
Ryu Hwan has dinner with his foster mother, the woman who runs the convenience store, and then goes up stairs and writes a letter to his own mother. He tells her that he is a little jealous of the woman and her son and he misses her. He then seals the letter and puts it under a mat with a pile of other letters. He may be a killing machine, but he is still just a 24 year old man that hasn't seen his mother in two years. Excuse me, I think that I have something in my eye.
While Ryu Hwan is out, he runs into Ran, the towns.....beauty? She is pretty, but I'm not sure what she actually does. She is quite drunk and ends up telling Ryu Hwan that she had a child seven years ago at the age of 18. Her parents then put the child up for adoption in America and with that she passes out.
Along with Ryu Hwan's possible feelings for his foster mother, he also might have some feelings of compassion for Ran, especially because he misses his own mother. We are starting to see the lines between North Korean spy Woo Ryu Hwan and village idiot Dong Gu becoming blurred.
Ryu Hwan is taking Ran home piggy back style, because that what you do with drunk people in Korea, when he runs into Hae Rang. Ryu Hwan plops Ran next to Hae Rang who then proceeds to vomit all over him.
Ryu Hwan asks Hae Rang if he knows anything about the man who came and threatened him earlier that night. Hae Rang doesn't seem too worried about it and calls himself and Ryu Hwan salmon. Ryu Hwan has never heard of this before and Hae Rang says that everyone calls them this, meaning that they have left home to do something bigger and better than they could have done there.
Flashback time! Ryu Hwan is practicing gutting scarecrows in the practice yard when a young boy comes out from behind one of the dummies. His name in Lee Hae Jin and I am assuming that this is Lee Hyun Woo since he is the last person that we saw before this flashback. Yup, its him. He is snapped out of his reminiscing though as Ryu Hwan come dramatically out of an alley way. You never know who is actually following who with spies.
Ryu Hwan calls Hae Jin by name and Hae Jin takes off.
The next day at work, Yoo Joon (Choi Woo Shik) runs into Ryu Hwan and introduces him to the new transfer student, Hae Jin. Awkward.
Sang Goo rides by and Ryu Hwan stops him to ask what is going on, but it turns out that the man on the bike isn't Sang Goo and that no one has seen him since the day before. Ryu Hwan throws a serious stank face a Hae Jin who is watching from the window.
And cue the suit men. They are a little torn on their decision about their own special forces team to go against the 5446. If the 5446 aren't doing anything, they why cause worry among people?
Back in the town, Ryu Hwan confronts Hae Jin about whether or not he killed Sang Goo. He neither confirms or denies anything, but says the Republic wants Sang Goo alive. He also says he has come to replace Sang Goo. As they are talking they see Yoo Joon's sister being harassed and Ryu Hwan tells Hae Jin to help. He covers up his puppy love by saying it will get him farther into the good graces of Yoo Joon.
Fortunately for the harasser (because Hae Jin had the idea to cut his head off) Yoo Joon comes and saves his sister.
Then, in order for Yoo Ran to keep her job, because the harasser was her boss, Ryu Hwan dresses him up the unfortunate clothing choice he made when he was looking for the little boy and takes some pictures as black mail. And that is how you kill two birds with one stone. Hae Jin is ultimately unimpressed with this show of "mercy".
Finally! Everyone is together and looking fabulous! I also love that Ryu Hwan sees his foster mother being harassed and puts on his tough face and then takes an idiot tumble down the stairs. Hae Jin's WTF face is also very nice. We are also given another look at Ryu Hwan's humanity which I love and also makes me nervous.
The man that was harassing Ryu Hwan's foster mother then finds her son, Doo Seok and beats him up. Ryu Hwan and Hae Jin witness this and Ryu Hwan tells Hae Jin to save Doo Seok, "play" with the thugs, but don't kill them, and then burn the warehouse down. Lovely. It's adorable to see how much Hae Jin looks up to Ryu Hwan and I have a feeling that it won't end well for either of them.
Finally, we are given out first look at the North Korean training camp, and it is to hear that all salmon are to be brought back home. Unfortunately, they will not be welcomed back with open arms they are to be called revolutionist traitors and killed without any traces.
Surprisingly, Tae Won asks for mercy for his salmon and asks that they be given a chance to come back with honor. Oh, nope, he says that a suicide order would be better. I knew that it was too good to be true. He also says he will kill the ones that do not kill themselves.
And with that, our three boys all receive the message to kill themselves. It turns out that there are a lot more salmon that I expected. I was so focused on these guys that I didn't consider that there were other 5446 members undercover as well. Sorry, other guys.
Hae Jin confronts Ryu Hwan about their past meeting in the training area that we saw in the flashback and then pulls a gun on him and blames him for what is happening because he was the reason that Hae Jin joined the 5446. Hae Rang comes into the scene at this point and basically tells Hae Jin to calm the balls down and knocks him around a bit. Hae Jin then runs away, but Ryu Hwan is able to catch him pretty quick.
Ryu Hwan gives the gun to Hae Jin and tells him to shoot him, but Hae Jin can't. Ryu Hwan leaves him saying that there is a way out, they just have to figure out what it is.
Suit man is at the scene of one of the suicides and calls his superior and says that it is time to move, but the superior says that it is not their concern and to leave it be. Suit man also says that he wants to save those last three young men who are still out there if they are still alive. I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy right now. Also, apparently suit man's name is Captain Seo (Kim Sung Kyun), so I guess that I should use his name instead of "suit man".
As Hae Jin is walking around at night, he is being followed by two men who are bad news. They are there to kill him, I would assume, but Hae Jin kills them first. Still conflicted. Next it's Ryu Hwan's turn to be targeted, but it turns out that it is actually Captain Seo. How did this guy find them? Ryu Hwan, not wanting to betray his mother, tells Captain Seo to leave, resulting in Seo pulling a gun on him. Well that escalated quickly.
Back in North Korea, Tae Won is ordered to go to South Korea and find Sang Goo. Oh no, is Sang Goo actually evil, because that would suck. He is ordered to leave none behind.
Sexy hair cut time! As my friends all know, I went through major hair withdraws in Dream High when Sam Dong cut his hair, both the first and especially the second time. Kim Soo Hyun just look really good with a lot of hair and I am a little sad that it is gone, but he looks good. With the haircut also comes a new image as he is smooth with the ladies and is able to duck the blow of Yoo Joon. He tells Yoo Joon to live well as his last good bye to him.
Ryu Hwan also says good bye to his foster mother who gives him the clothes that she first found him in, half conscious in the snow, and a bank book.
He also says goodbye to Ran and gives her the money that he has earned over the two years and the address to her son in America. Sob.
Meanwhile, Seo's men are still looking for Ryu Hwan. Ryu Hwan finds one of the men first and takes him down and uses the man's walkie to communicate with Seo. While conversing, Ryu Hwan hears that Tae Won has arrived at the base and that Ryu Hwan should surrender himself. Seo also tells Ryu Hwan that there is a tracker in his body and that there is no where to run.
At the base, Hae Jin asks Seo not to leave him alone and to use him as bate so they can capture Ryu Hwan. NOOO! Please don't suck! I like you!
Ryu Hwan and Tae Won finally meet in an abandoned building and Tae Won gives Ryu Hwan one last chance to finish his mission with honor. Ryu Hwan wants to ask something first: if he dies, what happens to his mother? He then changes the question to "is she alive" and the answer that he gets is "execute".
Tae Won's henchman attempts to kill him, but is taken down pretty easily. Now that Ryu Hwan has the henchman's gun, he points it at Tae Won and again asks his question. This results in a hand to hand fight and a broken gun. Then the henchman comes and stabs Ryu Hwan in the back! Oh heck no did you just do that! Ryu Hwan and Tae Won continue their fight which results in Tae Won kicking Ryu Hwan OUT A WINDOW! Stop hurting one of my favorite people, geez!
Henchman is about to finish the job, when Hae Rang runs into him with his car and Ryu Hwan gets in and they drive away. And it's car chase time. No good action movie would be complete without a car chase.
The two boys drive to another abandoned building, Ryu Hwan says that they are there to meet Sang Goo and recieve a weapon. When the three meet up, Sang Goo gives them a duffel, but it is only filled with cement blocks. GASP. Turns out that he actually sucks and he and his lackeys are going to murder the crap out of Ryu Hwan and Hae Rang.
I trusted you Sang Goo! I felt bad when you almost killed yourself and you cried for your family! I was so happy that you weren't actually killed in a dark alleyway, but maybe the fact that you weren't murdered in an alleyway should have been my first clue! And people wonder why I have trust issues.
Luckily Ryu Hwan and Hae Rang are freaking ninjas and they are able to take down about ten of the bad guys. But, technically, aren't Ryu Hwan and Hae Rang bad guys too since they are North Korean spies? Also, for someone who was stabbed and kicked out a window, Ryu Hwan is doing pretty well for himself.
After the fight is over, Ryu Hwan feels bad about attacking his own people and wonders about his mother. Sang Goo shoots back that all members of 5446's families have either been killed or they are being rounded up to be killed. Ryu Hwan falls to his knees at this revelation while Hae Rang says he doesn't care and begins to take down two more men while Sang Goo advances on Ryu Hwan.
On the other side Sang Goo makes fun of Ryu Hwan's pain and says that he should just go follow his mother, this causes Ryu Hwan to get the crazy eyes and start to fight back. Ryu Hwan jumps on top of Sang Goo, and I'm assuming that he is going to kill him, and this is when I let out two little screams because some freaking sniper just sniped them! They guy that Hae Rang was fighting with also used his body to block more bullets from hitting Hae Rang. What? Hae Rang yells at Ryu Hwan that they need to get out of the building, but Ryu Hwan sits there thinking about how he became a monster for the Republic, only to have them hunt him down like an animal
Captain Seo and his men reach the building and are greeted by the other sniper on the roof. They all duck for cover completely forgetting that Hae Jin is handcuffed to the ceiling hand hold of the car. So what does he do? He breaks the divers neck with his legs and escapes. Conflicted.
Back in the building, Hae Rang is helping a slightly comatose Ryu Hwan get away and Tae Won comes in and sees the damage that the two boys were able to to before the shooting began. Sang Goo comes out from behind a pole and demands protection and says that he won't forget the favor when they are back in the North. He's totally about to die. Yep, dead.
Back outside, there is gun fire everywhere as the cops are trying to take out the snipers. Hae Jin manages to take them all out though by killing the first one, and their using that gun to take out the other one. He tells Seo to go save Ryu Hwan and then he probably passes out because he does not look good.
Tae Won is giving the battered men a "pep talk" and says that they are all going to die and to those who can't walk, he will take care of them right now. This is the sound that the cops hear as they are climbing the stairs of the building. Tae Won sees Seo and tells him not to come up and let him deal with his own problems. Next thing you know, bombs are falling from the upper stairs.
Hae Rang and Ryu Hwan are still trying to get out, and finally collapse when they get to the roof of the building. Why do people always go to the roof? There is no way to escape a roof! The man whose sister Hae Rang may have killed has followed them up. He says that they are all family and he tells Hae Rang to keep living and dies.
Time for the showdown! Tae Won and the six other men who are still alive come to the rooftop and say that there is a message from Lee Mu Hyeok, the commander general. He slides the phone over to Hae Rang who proceeds to punch it into the concrete. The man who had the phone then insults Hae Rang's mother. Hae Rang, who can't run because of his leg wound, asks Ryu Hwan to bring the man to him so that he can finish him. I'm having V for Vendetta feels and I don't like it.
Ryu Hwan gets the man to Hae Rang who then sits on him and starts to kill him. Ryu Hwan confronts Tae Won again and repeats what Tae Won said to him two years ago. If they meet again, one or the other may die. In the background, the man (let's call him John) pulls out a knife and stabs Hae Rang in the side. NO! Hae Rang flips the knife around and pushes into John's neck. Ryu Hwan says that he entrusted his mother into the hands of Tae Won who then orders his men to kill Ryu Hwan.
Ryu Hwan takes down the five men pretty easily, because, you know, he's a boss. Side note, I hate it when people have their neck broken in movies. Hate it! It is not a sound I enjoy hearing, and it is just so violent and nasty looking. That leaves him and Tae Won for the final final showdown.
They just showed a shot of Hae Rang appearing to pass out. No! You're totally going to die aren't you?! Don't leave me! You have to go become a rock musician! I don't know how you managed to pass that audition, but you did! LIVE!
Ryu Hwan and Tae Won start going at it and they seem pretty well matched, but then again Ryu Hwan has had a hard day so we'll see how long he can hang on. Finally, Ryu Hwan starts to falter and Tae Won is landing blow after blow on Ryu Hwan's beautiful face. Stahp. Right as Ryu Hwan collapses, the police finally get to the roof. It's about freaking time. Geez. How long does it take to climb stairs?
Tae Won wonders how all this could have happened, and Hae Jin just says that he wants Ryu Hwan to survive, but Tae Won still has a trick left, one more bomb in his jacket. He says that the four of them should at least die with honor. Hae Rang is not having this though and runs at Tae Won to get the bomb. I am not liking where this is going........
Hae Rang and Tae Won fall off the building and the bombs goes off as they are falling.
Hae Jin tells Ryu Hwan to escape because if at least on of them don't get out, then Hae Rang's death won't mean anything, but Ryu Hwan doesn't seem to hear him. In his daze, he thinks about his foster mother and the sees the bank book she gave him before he left. Ryu Hwan breaks down and cries that he wants to go back to the life he left at that town.
Back at the town, mom wonders about Ryu Hwan, Doo Seok has made it through the police academy, and the guitar that Hae Rang left is waiting to be sold. The little boys that tormented Ryu Hwan are also wondering when he is going to come back.
Tears, you guys. Tears everywhere. What am I suppose to do with all of these feels Korea?
On the rooftop, Seo is again given the order to arrest the boys. Hae Jin hears this and raises his gun, but this time he fires. The SWAT team also begins to fire and Seo is bodily dragged back so he doesn't run into the fire. As Hae Jin is knocked closer and closer to the edge of the building by the bullets, Ryu Hwan grabs him so the bullets begin to land in his back instead of Hae Jin's chest. Then, at last, he pushes himself and Hae Jin off the building.
As we look at the bodies on the ground, we hear a voice over from the day the three boys were gutting anchovies. Hae Jin asks Ryu Hwan who he would want to be if he was born again. Ryu Hwan says that he would want to be born in a normal country with a normal family, born to live. Hae Jin says he would want to be a normal captain. We then are shown Hae Rang's body, he wants to have a pretty female neighbor to have fun with.
Back at the town, it is snowing and Ryu Hwan's foster mother says that she has learned of her idiot son's real identity. She doesn't understand why Ryu Hwan lied or what his goal was, but if he is still alive, she wants a letter from him. As she looks at a photo of Ryu Hwan, Doo Seok, and herself, she sees writing on the wall behind it. "Mom, don't get sick." She looks around like Ryu Hwan will pop out from behind a corner, but rids herself of the idea and cries.
As the camera focuses on those last words, a picture of the town folk, three spies included, is placed over the message.
Wow. I'm not sure what to do right now. I somehow felt at the beginning that Hae Jin and Hae Rang were going to die, but I did not expect Ryu Hwan to die as well; maybe it was because we were given those brief glimpses of his humanity that I thought he would be able to escape.
The thing that I have come to accept from Asian movies is that everyone dies in the end. I haven't watched a lot of movies, but I have read synopses and many times, everyone dies and then the audience is given a past shot of happiness like that can cushion the blow that everyone we loved was just murdered. I think that it makes it worse because those last shots are always of people being happy and talking about the future. That is not an okay thing to do Korea! Not okay!
I did enjoy this movie though and I might watch it again. Certainly not anytime soon though, I need some recovery time.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go fix my make up.
What else am I watching?
Marry Him if You Dare - I don't know who to ship Yoon Eun Hye with! This never happens to me and I don't like it!
Heirs - Young Do is such a little turd, but his character is awesome.