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Thursday, 14 June 2018

The Current Cinema - John Snadden recommends BELIEVER (Lee Hae-young, South Korea, 2018)

A few notes on the new South Korean crime pic, BELIEVER. 
If you're a fan of crime movies and Asian cinema don't miss this film! It's a remake of Johnnie To's 2012 gangster flick, DRUG WAR which was set in Mainland China. BELIEVER is not a slavish re-telling but it certainly does cover all the bases. 
However, there is one major difference with this remake which has the Korean cops chasing a high flying businessman who uses his various corporations as fronts for a much larger criminal organisation. His current business plan is to be "bigger than Samsung" by becoming the main supplier of methamphetamine to crime gangs in China. 
As with To's film, director Lee Hae-young presents us with a colorful cast of psychopaths and nut jobs, from an eye-ball chewing Shanghai crime boss to a corporate god botherer, who might just be the chosen one. 
Visually, BELIEVER gets the blend right and is often slick and shiny but also down and dirty when required. The script and storytelling are tight and it's only towards the end of the movie that the narrative seems a bit forced. But the latter does lead into the film’s impressive coda which works just beautifully. And it's so good I'm wondering whether these scenes might be very close to what director To actually filmed for the closing sequence of DRUG WAR - scenes cut from the film by Chinese censors. 
BELIEVER is screening at selected multiplexes and at the Chinatown cinema in Bourke Street.

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