There is very little doubt that writer/director Jin Jang (“No Comment”) has a firm technical handle on his new movie, “Guns and Talks”, but I doubt if he knew what he wanted to say, or if he had anything to say at all. “Guns and Talks” is a South Korean movie that revisits the tired Hitman Genre. With his version, Jin Jang has attempted to infused new blood into the genre with 4 assassins instead of the usual loner, and has also peppered his film with a unique, if too quirky, beat.
“Guns and Talks” is about a quartet of assassins led by Sang-yeon (Hyeon-jun Shin), the oldest and leader of the group. His “gang” consists of Ha-yeon (Bin Won), his younger brother; marksman Jae-yeong (Jae-yeong Jeong); and former marathoner and hot-tempered triggerman Jung-woo (Ha-kyun Shin). The foursome lives in the same house in the city and commits assassinations on the side. Other than that, they’re four ordinary Joes. Actually, they’re quite shy ordinary Joes who considers themselves only performing services that are needed.
When we first meet them, they’re killing 4 men for a local crime boss who is on the hit list of a tough and relentless cop (Jin-yeong Jeong). The mission is a success and the crime boss is back out on the streets, but unfortunately the cop is now after the assassins and worst, he’s found out where they live! Suddenly the assassins find their life complicated as the cop, and real life, begins to get in the way of their profession.
It should be noted that Jin Jang’s movie is not a straight action film. The opening scene involving the assassinations of four witnesses is done with style. The kills are elaborate (much too elaborate to be reasonable) and for a moment, I thought this was going to be a wall-to-wall action film. I was wrong. The rest of the movie consists of comedy and odd moments, followed by another assassination job, and then the movie ends. Huh?
That’s exactly my reaction when the film finally ended after almost two hours. Why? Because the movie seemed like a TV show and episodic in nature. Things happen. Characters do this. This happens later. Characters do that. There is no single overreaching dilemma or theme to grapple onto. Worst of all, potentially interesting secondary characters drift in and out and sometimes disappears for long periods before resurfacing again.
The film is narrated by Bin Won as Ha-yeon. Through him, we learn a little bit (snippets, really) about the individual assassins. Jung-woo, for instance, was a marathon runner who had a bad habit of getting lost during his marathons, so he thought he’d give killing people for money a try. We never really learn much about the characters except that they like watching the morning news because they think the anchorwoman is really cute.
The blame goes to Jin Jang for tricking the audience into thinking this was an action film. The opening is action-packed, but the rest of the movie drags. The second hit at the opera house, the movie’s potential saving grace, practically takes forever. What lasts about 20 minutes onscreen seems to have gone on for hours. The ending, a violent confrontation between the cop and Sang-yeon, did catch me off guard.
Despite all this, I did enjoy “Guns and Talks” for its daring style. The movie breaks through the fourth wall more than once. At one point, while doing voiceover narration, Ha-yeon loses track and admits to the audience that it’s not a good thing when you lose track while doing voiceover narration. In another scene, the cop seems to split into three separate frames after breaking into the quartet’s house to look for evidence.
The rest of the movie is made up of similar oddball situations, all of which don’t quite add up to a whole movie. The film seems like a hodgepodge of ideas, but not enough to make one big coherent film. The movie’s many episodes are enjoyable, but as a feature length movie “Guns and Talks” just isn’t much of one. Yet the movie is funny and quirky enough to be different. If nothing else, it certainly breathes new life into the tired Hitman Genre.
Jin Jang (director) / Jin Jang (screenplay)
CAST: Hyeon-jun Shin …. Sang-yeon
Ha-kyun Shin …. Jung-woo
Bin Won …. Ha-yeon
Jae-yeong Jeong …. Jae-yeong