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Typhoon

Awash in Overwrought Melodrama

Typhoon has been described by some as the Korean version of Mission Impossible. While the film does bear some vague resemblance to the Tom Cruise helmed espionage franchise, Typhoonís inspiration seems to draw more from melodramatic, over the top Jerry Bruckheimer films (Pirates of the Caribbean,King Arthur, Black Hawk Down) than anything else. This is not to say that Typhoon doesnít entertain, but the heavy handed, emotional melodrama of the film nearly capsizes what could have been an excellent action film.

Typhoon pours on the melodrama early with a nefarious gang of pirates hijacking a vessel near Taiwan. Sin (Dong-Kun Jang) and his pirates mercilessly gun down the entire crew en route to stealing a nuclear missile guidance kit. The Korean version of Tom Cruise, Gang Se-jong (played by Jung-Jae Lee) is promptly dispatched by the National Intelligence Service.

His mission (nigh on impossible) is to track down Sin and recover the stolen nuclear missile guidance kit. Naturally, Sin is seeking retribution for the tragic death of his family that he attributes to both North and South Korea. No one is innocent and all residents of the Korean Peninsula shall feel the wrath of Sin.

Director Kyung-Taek Kwak mirrors his inspiration quite well by including a story that is emotionally overwrought and heavy handed. From the tragic birth of Sinís anger and bitterness to the tearful reunion between Sin and his long lost sister Choi Myeong-ju (played by Mi-yeon Lee) we are beaten over the head with emotional gravitas.

Above and beyond a story that is strikingly reminiscent of any number of Bruckheimer directed/produced action films, the editing of Typhoon is similarly Bruckheimer-esque. Quick, fast cuts punctuate the abundant high speed chases, shoot outs, and fight sequences. Kwak deserves credit for crafting a visually striking film.

Somewhat less striking is the performance of Jung-Jae Lee as the heroic Gang Se-jong. His performance is grim, determined, and flat. The first half of the film has him going through the motions in his efforts to track down Sin. He becomes marginally more complex as he comes to understand Sinís past and his view of his target becomes a bit hazy.

Dong-Kun Jang on the other hand is infinitely entertaining as the tormented and twisted Sin. A mere glance from Sin reveals the dark depths of his hatred and desire for vengeance. While at times Jangís performance feels over the top, it seems appropriate given the excessive emotionality of the story.

Typhoon is a fairly polished action film that takes itself a bit too seriously. How many times have we seen action films in which the fate of millions lies in the hands of a diabolical madman? While Typhoon does it better than most, it doesnít do enough to elevate it above an average action film. That being said, itís a formula that does draw box office dollars, if not great reviews.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars