Guns and Talks (2001)
AKA Killerduelua Suda
Jang Jin, Director. 125 Minutes.
Guns and Talks is the dubious American title for a South Korean action comedy about four freelance assassins whose lives get complicated when they get too interested in their assignments and their clients. This is just after a job that they completed for a local crime boss attracts the attention of a district attorney.
The first thing to catch my eye about this film was the cast. The group's leader, Sang-yeon, played by Shin Hyeon-Jun (Barefoot Ki-Bong, Kiss Me Kill Me), is primarily assisted by demolitions expert Jung-woo, played by one of my favorite actors, Shin Ha-Kyun (No Mercy For The Rude, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance), and firearms specialist Jae-young played by another favorite, Jeong Jae-Yeong (Welcome to Dongmakgol, Righteous Ties.) The fourth and youngest member of the group is Ha-yeon, Sang-yeon's little brother, and is played by Won Bin (in his first major film role.) Won Bin, of course, would later go on to star in great films like Tae Guk Gi, Mother, and most recently, The Man From Nowhere. The district attorney whose attention is focused on Sang-yeon is played by Jeong Jin-Yeong (Green Fish). (Writer's Note: With a cast like that, how could I not be interested?? All it would need is Choi Min Sik as a crime boss and Song Kang Ho as Jeong Jin-Yeong's supervisor or something and I wouldn't even care what the plot was about anymore. Ha ha!)
Early in the film we see the team kill a few people who can testify against a local crime boss who is currently in police custody. The kills are stylishly shot and pretty to look at, despite stretching the limits of believability a bit right out of the gate. (We were all disappointed as children to discover that we couldn't actually crawl around throughout the air duct system of buildings, it wasn't just me, right?) This effectively kills the case against the crime boss, which greatly upsets the district attorney over the case. The district attorney comes to the conclusion that the killings were not of the style that the crime boss or his men would employ and begins to investigate further, putting him on the trail of the group of assassins. Around this same time, a schoolgirl who has figured out what they do for a living begins brashly hounding the group to kill her teacher who is an ex-lover. Things are further complicated when Jung-woo is assigned to kill a pregnant young woman that he is attracted to, and Sang-yeon takes on a very public and dangerous contract despite all of the attention that is on the group from the police.
Let me put my cards on the table early. The assassin as protagonist angle has been done far too many times for its own good at this point. If real life assassins were kept as busy as they are in cinema, it wouldn't be long before there would be no population problem on this planet. Even the subcategory, if you can call it that, of assassins having a heart and falling in love has been overdone. This film is no exception. In fact, looking at this film with the same level of critique that I normally use on this blog, this film is not good. (Here's where I get to admit to being a bit of a hypocrite for all the times that I gripe about some really bad big budget American films being made up of some good scenes but too flawed to be worth watching.) I'm a bit of a sucker for that kind of thing though, especially in Korean cinema, and this film has some really fun scenes and such a gleeful attitude at times that I do enjoy it despite its many flaws.
Part of the film's humor is found in the unreliable narration by Won Bin's character, who is arguably the most immature of the group and occasionally has trouble expressing himself when speaking to the audience. What his character perceives and reports is sometimes different from what we are shown on the screen. This is particularly evident in one humorous scene where he is describing to viewers the outcome of a monologue he delivers about love to break up a fight between two other members of the group. While he describes the others as being moved to tears by his statements, in reality they are shaking with laughter at him, but have their backs turned so that he can't see it. Another major humor vehicle for the film is Jung-woo's impulsive actions and how easily the character is thrown off balance by the woman he is assigned to kill. While not exactly bumbling fools, the group does make their share of mistakes in the film, which is also amusing to varying degrees.
In my opinion, most of Guns and Talks features pretty typical lighting and cinematography, but it does have a few stylish shots up its sleeve. The scene in the opera house late in the film is particularly fun to watch, although again asks for a good deal of suspension of belief by viewers. There are occasional split screen shots to show montages of actions by characters in the film, that I generally find a bit distracting to watch although the specific scene featuring a brief home invasion wraps up rather nicely. There are also several nice little cinematic touches to some scenes that would otherwise be far more typical and boring to watch.
English subtitled trailer, but image and sound quality is lacking.
There is better image quality on this trailer, but no English subtitles.
Thanks for reading. Comments are always welcome. =)