wo things about "Tube": In the beginning, during
a shootout at the airport, just ignore the fact that you never see anyone
reload, even though there are enough bullets flying back and forth to arm the
entire Iraqi army. (Actually, I only saw a character reload once in the
entire movie.) And about 40 minutes later, when the leading lady completely
fouls up the bad guy's plans, the bad guy, who has just shot about a dozen
people in cold blood, doesn't seem especially concern about letting her continue
to breathe. Ignore these two things, and "Tube" isn't completely bad,
even though it's obviously a Dumb Action Movie through and through.
"Tube" stars Seok-hun Kim as Jay, a cop who has
fallen from grace and is being haunted by his past (aren't they always?), which
involves the death of his lover during a botched assignment. Now working as a
lowly, disheveled, and disinterested subway cop, Jay gets a chance at redemption
when T (Sang-min Park), an ex-government assassin with a personal
grudge against his former employers hijack a subway car. Also in the subway car
is Kay (Du-na Bae), a subway musician/pickpocket and full-time stalker. Her
stalking victim is Jay, who the lonely Kay is infatuated with, and it's in fact
Kay who first spotted T and contacted Jay, thus Jay and Kay wind up in
the subway car as T makes his move.
Borrowing heavily from "Die Hard" for its
narrative structure, the last section of "Speed" for its overall
premise, and dashes of "The Rock" for its character motivations,
"Tube" was apparently postponed earlier in the year when a subway
incident in South Korea claimed numerous lives. The delay of "Tube's"
bow is similar to what happened in the States with "Collateral
Damage" and recently, "Phone
Booth". For action junkies
there's plenty to like about "Tube". The movie is very slick, the
production values are high, and for those weary of "a South Korean
movie", they needn't be, because "Tube" takes its cues from
Hollywood summer fare. So in those respects the film is not very "South
Korean" at all.
Of course the biggest problem with "Tube" is that
it's a Dumb Action Movie. Of note is T, who carries himself like a
criminal mastermind, but is not especially bright when it comes to taking
decisive action. Then again, this is more writer/director Baek Woon-Hak's fault.
Owing more to the Dumb Action Movie Clichés than anything, T never
makes the obvious choice, such as blowing out Kay's brains. Not even when Kay
completely ruins his plans in the beginning, and then not again later when Kay
assaults him, thus fouling up his plans to shoot the hero. Oh sure, Kay gets a
beating from T's right-hand man, but you'd think a bullet would offer a
more permanent solution to what is obviously going to be a reoccurring problem.
Then again, I'm no criminal mastermind, so maybe they think differently.
Speaking of Kay, the character is the weakest element of
"Tube". Besides possessing the mentality of a 5-year old with a
schoolgirl crush, Kay is not entirely involved in the movie after the 50 minute
mark, and her return to involvement, when she dares T to kill her,
will elicit groans of disbelief instead of awe for her heroism, which is
obviously what the film was going for. Of course "Tube" has no bearing
on real life, because the clichéd characters that band together to stop T only exists in Dumb Action Movies. There are the Brain Dead Federal
Agents, who exists only to block our hero's path. The superiors whose only
reason to exist is to scream at our hero for being such a loose cannon and make
the requisite boneheaded decisions. Was there ever a superior in an
action movie that wasn't a total moron?
Still, "Tube" has a number of things going for
it. The villain played by Sang-min Park may be grossly familiar, but the actor
is possibly the best thing about the whole enterprise. Park gives a menacing
performance with his icy cold stare, exuding personality that Chow Yun-Fat clone
Seok-hun Kim can't hope to match. And yet the two men's vendetta is a bit much,
and their shared past seems just a tad superfluous.
The movie has a big budget, with a number of thrilling
action sequences that works wonders if you shut down your brain. Of course those
inclined to think may be wondering why super duper criminal mastermind T hijacked the train with only one other man, making their total number a
less-than-frightening two. Also, the presence of Stormtrooper Syndrome
easily explains why all the SWAT guys have such lousy aim. With just two guys
standing perfectly still mowing them down like they were ducks in a pond, you'd
think some of those well-trained SWAT guys could get in a lucky shot -- but alas,
In closing, always remember that if you happen to find
yourself in a Dumb Action Movie, remember to put something metal (preferably
with sentimental value) inside your coat's breast pocket. Why? Invariably the
bad guy will shoot you in the chest and think he's killed you, when that metal
object will have in fact blocked the bullet! Of course, this is the type of
thing you can only do in Dumb Action Movies, so make sure you're in one before
you take the risk.