Friday, January 20, 2017

Film Review: Sea Fog (2014)

Sea Fog (aka Haemoo) (Review)
South Korea/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It works as a drama, romance, and thriller – a great combo."

Struggling to make ends meet, a fishing-boat crew takes on a job of smuggling immigrants from China to South Korea...

Sea Fog is a great movie. The plot follows Captain Cheol-joo (Kim Yoon-seok) and his crew, which includes rookie Dong-sik (Park Yoo-chun). Cheol-joo is struggling to make ends meet and he refuses to sell his boat. So, he takes a high-paying and dangerous job smuggling people from China to South Korea. All is well at first. Dong-sik even finds love with young immigrant Hong-mae (Han Ye-ri). However, tragedy quickly hits the boat and the crew is forced to tie up loose ends – except Dong-sik, who refuses to quit on Hong-mae. I'd say more, but this is a film where the less you know, the better it is. It even surprised me at times. It leads to an interesting ending. It has me thinking about the entire situation, but I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it.


I really enjoyed Sea Fog. It was a very effective film. It's a drama with strong romance and thriller elements – and all of the pieces work. In fact, I didn't really expect the romance to work so well, but it really hit home. The suspense was also fantastic. There are scenes that are filled with tension – it's unnerving. It's well-paced, too. There were a few things I didn't like, though. The focus on Cheol-joo, Dong-sik, and Hong-mae is good; it makes their characters believable. However, the rest of the crew is a bit off. Due to the lack of character development for them, they all come off as extreme caricatures of uncontrollably horny and psychotic men – and it all feels like it comes out of nowhere! It doesn't ruin the film, not at all, but it does make it bit less effective towards the second half.

The acting was all-around great, though. It's a little melodramatic here and there, but it's consistently effective. Kim Yoon-seok is fantastic as the leading man. He plays these dark, multi-layered characters well. Park Yoon-chun and Han Ye-ri also perform very well – individually and together. The film was beautifully shot. The music was also fantastic. I wish I could find the soundtrack somewhere other than YouTube. The film was written by Shim Sung-bo and Bong Joon-ho; Shim also directs. Aside from the off – for want of a better word – character shifts towards the end, I thought the writing was fine. Shim Sung-bo also shows that he's a capable director, creating an eerie atmosphere, developing stellar suspense, and sparking chemistry within his cast.

Overall, Sea Fog is a great film. It's a powerful drama about a very unfortunate tragedy. It works as a drama, romance, and thriller – a great combo. It keeps you on the edge while conjuring some misty eyes. There are some issues with the supporting characters towards the second half, but it's otherwise a great experience.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some sex and partial nudity.

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