Look Corner: “Assassination (암살)”

English Title: Assassination
Korean Title: 암살
Year: 2015
Genre: Action & Adventure
Director:Choi Dong-hoon (최동훈)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Last year, a good friend of mine suggested that I watch Assassination (암살). The trailers all looked amazing, but for whatever reason, it took me around a year to actually watch it. And I was sure glad that I did! It was amazing.

Before I get into the review, there’s a dynamic that needs to be discussed. I’ve noticed an annoying tendency to compare Korean creations to the creations of other nations. “Kimbap (김밥) is the Korean version of sushi.” (It’s not.) “G-Dragon is the Korean version of Lady Gaga.” (He’s not.) “Pepero (빼빼로) is the Korean version of Pockey.” (It actually sort of is, but that’s not the point.) There exists a sad tendency to view Korean creations as existing in the shadows of other countries’ work.

That being said, there are some times where it is useful to draw this comparison to quickly convey a concept to someone unaware. I don’t think this sort of comparison should be prohibited, but used incredibly sparingly. And always used with care.

I say this because I want to (favorably) compare Assassination to Quintin Tarantino’s 2009 blockbuster Inglorious Basterds. Both films are works of historical fiction, both films feature a diverse cast of interesting characters, and both films’ plots have a number of twists and turns. Oh, and both films are excellent. (There are a number of other similarities that I have noticed, but I do not want to give any spoilers away.) If you enjoyed Inglorious Basterds, then you’ll likely enjoy Assassination.

To understand Assassination, it’s worth doing a bit of reading about East Asian history from 1910 through 1945, as the film is set in a number of locations in that time period. A deep understanding of the history isn’t necessary, but a cursory understanding is probably required. (And also a good thing to know!)

Its main criticisms others have noted are that it is too long and the plot is a bit hard to follow. I didn’t find either of those to be true, but I will admit that this is not a film that one can miss 5 minutes of. There are a lot of little details that are important later in the movie.

Honestly, go watch it. My favorite Korean film is probably still The President’s Last Bang (그때는 그사람들), but this has earned a spot as a close second.