Friday, November 24, 2017

Film Review: The Unjust (2010)

The Unjust (Review)
South Korea/2010
Format Viewed for Review: DramaFever
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a masterfully crafted web of deceit."

On the hunt for a serial killer, a detective becomes intertwined in a messy scandal along with a gangster-turned-businessman and a corrupt prosecutor...

The Unjust is a film filled with twists and turns, so I'll try to keep my summary of the plot as short and spoiler-free as possible. The plot begins by explaining that there is a serial killer on the loose—a vicious killer who only targets elementary school students. When the lead suspect is killed, leading to criticism and pressure from the Blue House, a senior officer concocts an idea to save face: create a suspect. So, detective Choi Cheol-gi (Hwang Jung-min), a detective who is always passed up for promotion despite his hard work, is hired to do so. Cheol-gi works with gangster-turned-businessman Jang Seok-gu (Yoo Hae-in) to force a former child abuser into taking credit for the serial killing crimes in exchange for some cash for his family. At the same time, Cheol-gi must deal with Joo Yang (Ryoo Seung-bum), a corrupt prosecutor who has his sights set on him for his own selfish and spiteful reasons. As you can see, there is a lot going on in the plot. It leads to a great ending, too.

The Unjust is a great crime film. The plot kept me engaged from beginning to end thanks to its drama, mystery, and the sheer unpredictability of it all. I feel like saying it's 'filled with twists and turns' is cliché and overused in reviews, but it's completely accurate here. Although it has a few slow moments, this film never stops moving. It throws you in every direction, but none of it is far-fetched or lazy. It's a masterfully crafted web of deceit. The film's themes might be heavier if you're from South Korea, but I think they have universal appeal. The film is primarily about the rampant corruption in the Korean criminal justice system, but, in reality, there seems to be corruption in all systems based on power. In other words, it's universally relevant. The characters are also great, although you may not like them. This is one of those films where all of the characters are bad people, but it works—and, fortunately, they're not annoying. It's a breath of fresh air.

The acting was great, too. Hwang Jung-min delivers a stellar performance as the leading man—no overacting, just a controlled-but-passionate performance. Ryoo Seung-bum is effortlessly charismatic as usual. Yoo Hae-in filled his role perfectly as well. The film was shot well, too. I liked the general tone of the music, but it didn't quite standout except during a few scenes. The film was written by Park Hoon-jung and directed by Ryoo Seung-wan. The writing was incredibly tight and smart. There are a few contrived moments, but Park delivers a very concise, detailed, and even scathing screenplay. Ryoo's direction complemented the screenplay well, creating a tense thriller without overshadowing its themes or character.

Overall, The Unjust is a great film. It is an engaging crime drama with an original, twisted plot. There are some contrived moments and a few scenes that hurt the pacing, but it's otherwise a great experience. If you love cop and gangster crime thrillers, you'll enjoy this one.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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