With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, March 07, 2014

TABLOID TRUTH opens today in L.A.

CJ Entertainment Presents
A Watermelon Pictures Production
Tabloid Truth
Directed by KIM Kwang-sik
South Korea, 2014, 121 minutes

Tabloid Truth, a South Korean thriller about exploitation of scandal sheets and the internet by corporate bigwigs and powerful politicians, makes its North American debut today, Friday, March 7th in Los Angeles where it will be playing in CGV Cinemas.Next Friday, March 14th, its run will expand to New York, Vancouver and Hawaii. Check out the official Tabloid Truth website for further information and showtimes.

LEE Won-gon (KIM Kang-woo) first saw aspiring actress CHOI Mi-jin (GO Won-hee) at the Zeus Entertainment audition. His strong belief in her led to him being fired by the agency he works for., but is compensated by CHOI seeking him out and requesting he become her personal manager. Through his hard work on her behalf and, of course, her talent, she lands small parts, appears in commercials and eventually begins working on a new television series. She seems well on her way to a stellar career.

This promising path is undone when a story about an alleged affair between her and a congressman named NAM surfaces and goes viral. Both CHOI and NAM deny being involved with one another, and LEE sets up a press conference that he hopes will quell the furor. When the turnout is abysmal -- because a higher priority celebrity story has cropped up -- LEE cancels the event and tells CHOI, who is on her way, to go back to her place. When LEE gets there he finds her hanging in the bathroom, an apparent suicide.

Tabloid distributor Mr. PARK  (left) meets with Won-gon

LEE insists that whoever is responsible for the unfounded story be held accountable for driving CHOI to such a desperate action. He becomes involved with a group that distributes tabloid gossip that's headed by former investigative reporter Mr. PARK (JEONG Jin-yeong). BAEK Moon (KO Chang-seok), a talented wiretapper and surveillance expert who's associated with Mr. Park, also becomes involved.

Woo-gon (center) infiltrates an "info meeting"

LEE's search leads him to learn about "info meetings" attended by "info men" who regularly exchange information that will help serve their interests. Such "info meetings" are the source of much "tabloid truth," including the false story about the CHOI/NAM affair. Getting higher up the info chain leads LEE to discoveries about O&C Group, a huge and powerful corporation, and its influence on high-placed politicians. It also brings him into confrontation with CHA Seong-joo (PARK Seong-woong), a professional problem solver who's tasked with keeping LEE from discovering the truth about CHOI's death.

CHA Seong-joo, enforcer for powerful corporations and their political allies

LEE's quest brings him -- and his allies -- into physical danger that keeps escalating. The drama centers about who, if anyone, will stay the course in light of potentially deadly consequences.

Tabloid Truth is the second feature film from director KIM Kwang-sik; his first was My Dear Desperado (2010), a love story about a community college graduate and a gangster. In this sophomore effort, KIM has a great topic and a basically sound story line. However, I found that the film suffers somewhat from two faults. One is that there's too much verbal explaining as opposed to cinematic showing. Perhaps this is related to the rather complicated plot, but here KIM seems to rely to heavily on characters, especially Mr. Park, giving lengthy explanations of what's behind the stories that crop up and spread like wildfire even though they often have no basis in reality.

Woo-gon (left), BAEK Moon (center), and Mr. Park (right) on surveillance

Secondly, the physical action suffers from repetition. LEE is capable of putting the hurt on some people in his effort to uncover the truth, but he is no match for CHA, allegedly a former National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent. In his efforts to dissuade LEE from continuing his investigation, CHA breaks one or more of LEE's fingers, not once, not twice, but three times! A bit too much of the same thing, as far as I'm concerned, though CHA is eventually driven to more extreme measures.

Even with these faults, Tabloid Truth is certainly a film worth seeing.

ACF Rating 2.5 out of 4 stars; a fairly good film warranting a mild-to-moderate recommendation

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