This is the new film from South Korean filmmaker Ryoo Seung-Wan (who a few years back made the excellent “Crying Fist”). The city of Seoul is in a state of panic due to a serial killer who has been preying on young school girls. It is such a high profile case that the government takes in interest in it and demands that results must happen on this case and quickly. The police believe that they have the culprit but a gun-happy officer shoots the man dead. What makes it worse is the fact that the officer was the uncle of one of the victims. Knowing they cannot give this information to the public, as it would worsen the poor reputation the cops have already, they decide to find a “replacement” – someone they can make look like the killer. The police ask their top dog detective to help, which he agrees on and starts to work through the unlucky candidates from the initial suspects list. When he chooses one, he uses the services of a gangster to help “train” the man in learning exactly what he must say when he is arrested. The arrest goes ahead as planned, but soon after a prosecutor starts digging around and is quick to realize that things are not all they seemed. Soon enough, everyone is backstabbing everyone, people are pressured, bribed or both, and the use of blackmail is never far behind. The detective must eventually face off with the prosecutor, while the gangster involved is also trying to manipulate things in his favour, with all the damning evidence he has at his disposal.
Unfortunately I just didn’t like this film, worse I actually found it unpleasant, I couldn’t respond to it at all. My main problem with it is that it just seemed so implausible and I couldn’t believe that a top detective would agree so easily to the things he is forced to do here. Also just how far he goes seems a little absurd too. I suppose the film is demonstrating that anyone is corruptible but it just seems too easy in “The Unjust”.
The lead performances are both average to put it nicely. Hwang Jung-Min plays the troubled cop and just doesn’t have any charisma at all, and is just dull and flat, while Ryoo Seung-Bum who plays the prosecutor is the opposite. He is so far over-the-top, it is just silly and for a gritty film looking at a corrupt city, these performances do not work. I also thought that the film was quite ugly to look at and was stunned to learn that Chung Chung-Hoon was the cinematographer on “The Unjust”. He is Park Chan-Wook’s preferred cinematographer and has worked on all of his features since “Oldboy” (including Park Chan-Wook’s soon to be filmed English language debut “Stoker”), and they always look spectacular.
Overall, I didn’t get very much out of “The Unjust” at all, and thought it was particularly disappointing. As such, I don’t think I can recommend this film at all.