LEE Jeon-mo (KIM Su-hyeon) is a retired firefighter who runs the Vitamin Flower Shop with his wife. They have two children. Their daughter Hee-jung is on the cusp of puberty and already concerned about pimples. Their younger child, Jung-sik, is a boy who loves playing video games, an activity in which his father sometimes joins. All in all they are a contented, happy family.
That is, until one evening when Hee-jung is kidnapped. The LEE family's world is turned upside down as the kidnapper calls Jeon-mo and tells him that he should think on a past sin, as the kidnapping is punishment for something LEE did wrong. The abductor demands a rather low ransom, but keeps Jeon-mo moving from one rendezvous point to another, then makes an outrageous demand for the safe return of Hee-jung.
Father, mother, and son each become increasingly unraveled and distraught as the situation becomes more and more bizarre and Hee-jung remains a captive. The denouement is a surprising reveal, although one eventually realizes that YOO has provided some hints along the way.
Guardian was YOO's graduation project at the Korean Academy of Film Arts, and it's a most auspicious beginning for what promises to be a rich career. It's well-paced overall and nicely structured, with good performances by the cast of four adults and three children.
AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; solidly recommended.