Attack the Gas Station (1999) Movie Review

The plot of “Attack the Gas Station” is a simple one. Four robbers, whose names escapes me (maybe that’s because they’re rarely mentioned in the movie), have come to a gas station to rob it for the second time that day. The station’s manager, believing there is no way the robbers would come back after just having robbed him, hides the day’s take under his desk instead of sending it away to a safe place. He’s that kind of guy.

When the robbers return and demand the day’s take, the manager lies and tells them that his wife has it, and that she’s on her way to put the money away at a safe place now. (As you can see, he has no trouble putting his wife at risk. What a swell fellow.) So the robbers order the manager to call the wife and bring the money back, which he does, only to find that his wife is “out to get ice cream.” (Later on, the manager discovers that his wife is in fact somewhere else with a secret lover, much to his chagrin — but our delight.)

Forced to wait for the wife to return home and get her instructions, the robbers must take the gas station and its employees hostage for the night. And so they do, with hilarious results. Yet, look through the veil of comedy and you see an underlying theme in the movie. I saw it in another South Korean teen-oriented movie a few months back called “Beat”. The theme is one of mistrust of adults and the adult-run establishment.

In “Beat” it was the schools and the criminal empire of which the two main characters were at odds with; in “Gas Station” it is the station’s manager and the cops who come over for free gas every night. Both movies shed light on what they perceive as false labeling: that the so-called “troublemakers” (the robbers in “Gas Station” and gangbangers in “Beat”) are actually the trustworthy ones. They do what they say because their word is their bond. The adults in both movies are greedy, duplicitous, and prone to backstabbing.

So what’s the message? It’s about honesty, not about who you are and what you do.

But if you’re not in the mood for messages, “Gas Station” is a good comedy with very real heart. It is engaging and endearing when we least expect it to be, and the ending is quite inventive, if a little silly. The movie is not to be taken seriously, and its many funny moments do come at the expense of other characters. There is violence, the kind that is prevalent in South Korean movies. Get ready for a large helping of physical abuse in the name of comeuppance.

Then again, this is an update of an old review, so take it for what it’s worth.

Sang-Jin Kim (director)
CAST: Sung-jae Lee …. No Mark
Oh-seong Yu …. Mu Dae-po
Seong-jin Kang …. Ddan Dda-ra
Ji-tae Yu …. Paint

Buy Attack on the Gas Station on DVD