James Mudge’s Best and Most Disappointing Films of 2011

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The Yellow Sea (2010) Movie Image

Yellow Sea

Equally brutal and setting a cinematic world record for its sheer number of knife and axe fights is Korean thriller “The Yellow Sea”, director Na Hong Jin’s follow-up to his modern classic “The Chaser”. The film follows Ha Jung Woo (who won Best Actor at the 5th Asian Film Awards for his sympathetic performance) as a desperate man up to his neck in debt, who takes on a shady job to assassinate a South Korean businessman in China. Needless to say, complications ensue, everything goes wrong, and he finds himself on the run and targeted by gangs, the police, and other killers. Na Hong Jin is quickly proving himself a master of tension, and despite a running time of over two and a half hours, “The Yellow Sea” is a breathlessly fast moving piece of hardcore action cinema, filled with intense chase scenes, mass brawls and wickedly vicious choppings and beatings. Grim, downbeat and believable, the film stands out not only due to its exhilarating set pieces, but its wonderful collection of offbeat, dog eat dog characters, Na Hong adding a cruelly humanistic edge to the proceedings and painting a tough, though not hopeless picture of life in the gutter.

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