With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ACF 2011: A COMPANY MAN - Region 1 Blu-ray Reviewed

Well Go USA Entertainment
A Company Man / Hoi-sa-won
Written and directed by LIM Sang-yun
South Korea, 2012, 96 minutes

A Company Man is the remarkable debut film from director LIM Sang-yun, who also wrote the screenplay. This terrific Korean actioner streets todayon Blu-ray, DVD and Digital (video-on-demand, electronic sell-through, and streaming).

JI Hyeong-do (left) and Chairman JEON

The film's protagonist is JI Hyeong-do (SO Ji-sub), the handsome, smartly-dressed sales director of a metal fabrication company. He is very highly regarded by company chairman JEON (played by JEON Guk-hwan). But this is not a regular corporation and his job duties are not exactly regular white collar. He is actually an assassin working for a Contract Killing Company that uses metal fabrication as a front.

JI uses a young "temp" named Hun (newcomer KIM Dong-jun) on a job that involves killing someone under police protection. Hun, as KIM describes his character in one of the Blu-ray's extras, is "fearless and daring." He takes out his target, as well as several cops, but is injured after the fact.

YU Mi-yeon and JI at a movie theater

Feeling responsible for Hun's injury, JI takes money to Hun's mother, YU Mi-yeon (LEE Mi-yeon). She had achieved fame as a singer when in her teens, but left that life to care for her two children, Hun and his younger, seventeen year old sister. Now YU works as a seamstress.

JI was a big fan of YU's and begins to have strong feelings for her. He decides to leave his job as a hit man, which produces predictable results. The company is not about to let him go, setting up a conflict that can only lead to massive mayhem between JI and his former bosses & coworkers.

The basic storyline is a rather familiar one: think of the various Nikita movies (the original La Femme Nikita, Hollywood's Point of No Return, and the Hong Kong version, Black Cat) and TV shows, as well as the television show Alias. It's always hard to stop being an assassin or contract killer for a big organization. But writer/director LIM gives this iteration great style and class, and adds interesting new twists to the genre. This is a most noteworthy achievement, especially considering that this is LIM's first film. This guy would seem to have a great future ahead of him.

JI (left) and a co-worker in a fight-to-the-death

Special mention also should be made of the equally outstanding work of SHIN Jae-min, the action coordinator. There's gun-play, knife fights, and combat both of the bare-handed and improvised weapon variety. In an extra, actor SO Ji-sub talks about how the hardest thing he had to do was to let his body just remember the moves because they were so fast that, if he thought about them, his timing would immediately be off.

There are two extras on the Blu-ray disc. One is a "making of" featurette that, at approximately four-and-a-half minutes is perhaps more properly described as a mini-featurette. Even so, it's insightful and worth watching. The other extra is a trailer for the film. Three previews of other Well Go USA offerings are available as a separate choice on the main menu.

A Company Man is a most auspicious debut, a simple but polished action film that most definitely deserves your attention.

ACF Rating: 3 out of 4 stars, a really solid, very good film.