Some (2004) Movie Review

In the world of South Korean cop films, there’s not a whole lot about “Some’s” script that makes it stand out. The only real exceptional thing about “Some” is its cast — in particular, it’s two leads. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear leading man Soo Go, playing a rebel cop name Kang Sung-joo, and Ji-hyo Song, playing a spunky traffic reporter who becomes unwittingly entangled in Kang’s investigation, were veterans of the trade. More surprising, then, that “Some” is Go’s first movie and Song’s second (having been in the last “Whispering Corridors” installment, “Wishing Stairs”).

“Some” follows a day in the life of Kang, one of those clich’d loose cannon cops, who when we first meet him is already in the midst of a marathon investigation. Kang is tracking down the members of a youth criminal gang that may or may not have stolen drugs out of a cop’s car. There are many problems associated with this particular theft: one) the cop, out of whose car the drugs were stolen from, happens to be Kang’s superior, as well as father figure, who is now under investigation for corruption; two) the young gang never had possession of the drugs, and thinks a crooked cop was the actual culprit; three) gangsters from Busan are scouring the streets in search of answers, and they’re not too indiscriminate about whose legs they have to break to get answers.

Into this mess comes traffic reporter Yu-jin, who happens to have moved into the apartment formerly owned by a member of the youth gang, thus incidentally coming into possession of the film’s McGuffin. After the Busan gangsters make a failed grab at her, Yu-jin comes into contact with Kang. The answers to everyone’s problems seem to reside in an MP3 player (the McGuffin in question) that another member of the youth gang had given Yu-jin before he met his untimely death in a car accident. Further complicating matters is Yu-jin’s latent psychic abilities. You see, she seems to be remembering the entire day that the movie chronicles, and as the day grows longer, the more she starts to remember, including the death of a certain cop name Kang…

If “Some’s” synopsis sounds overly muddled, it really isn’t. The film keeps the audience in the dark for its first hour only by not revealing important plot points right away, instead doling them out in little bits over time. The police investigation itself is not particularly interesting, with the real villain revealed a few minutes after the first hour. It’s a surprise, sure, but not overly dramatic, like much of the film. In fact, the only real tension the film generates is through Yu-jin’s strange ability to forecast the future — or to be more precise, events that she remembers having lived through previously. The day, it seems, is repeating itself all over for Yu-jin, sort of a blurry “Groundhog Day”.

There are really only three reasons to watch “Some”, one of which is the excellent direction by Yun-hyeon Jang (who also produced the psychological horror/war film “R-Point”). “Some” is one of those movies that move to its own beat, establishing an off-kilter pacing that strangely enough works for it, and at just under two hours, the film actually feels much shorter. There are some very nice moments in the film, such as a sequence where Kang and Yu-jin are in a car driving through a city that seems caught in some strange weather phenomenon. Much of the film has a whimsical quality to it, a surreal vibe that takes it out of the world of gritty cop films and almost into mild fantasy or incidental sci-fi.

The movie’s strangeness is made appealing by the presence of Ji-hyo Song, who looks very much like a Korean version of Angelica Lee. In fact, besides physical appearance, the situation that Song’s Yu-jin finds herself in is remarkably similar to what Lee’s character endured in the horror film “The Eye”. Although there’s nothing overtly horrific about Yu-jin’s visions (they’re more like sad memories), knowing that she’s reliving a day that ends badly puts a heavy burden on young Yu-jin. It’s to Ji-hyo Song’s credit that she turns in a credible performance as a woman who seems to know that doom awaits her at the end of the day, and yet soldiers on nonetheless. Expect good things from Song in the future.

Actor Soo Go is also good, especially in the scenes that he shares with Ji-hyo. There’s undeniable chemistry between the two young actors, which helps to keep our attention as the script plods along with its uninteresting police investigation. There are a number of plot twists, as villains are revealed and secrets are uncovered, but it’s all really background noise. All we really want to know is if Kang and Yu-jin will get together, and if Yu-jin can manage to save Kang’s life by the end of the day, thus averting the tragedy that she knows is coming unless she takes drastic actions to prevent it.

For a cop film, “Some” has surprisingly little action. There is some mild gunplay at the end, a couple of routine car chases in-between, and a free-for-all fistfight squeezed in for good measure, but otherwise the film rests on the shoulders of its two affable and charming leads. Instead of wasting too much time on the hunt for a stray MP3 player, the film could have spent more time investigating the cause of Yu-jin’s visions. Then again, I suppose the fact that the film never really explores Yu-jin’s reliving of the same day is what makes the movie as intriguing as it is. Details, at this point, would probably just get in the way of a curiously entertaining film.

Yun-hyeon Jang (director) / Eun-Jeong Kim, Eun-shil Kim (screenplay)
CAST: Soo Go …. Kang Sung-joo
Ji-hyo Song …. Yu-jin
Dong-kyu Lee …. Min Jae-il
Shin-il Kang …. Chief Oh

Buy Some on DVD