Friday, January 19, 2018

Film Review: Broken (2014)

Broken (Review)
South Korea/2014
Format Viewed for Review: Google Movies
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a suspenseful, thrilling, and compelling movie."

A father hunts the teenagers responsible for his daughter's tragic death while being pursued by the police.

Broken follows Lee Sang-hyeon (Jung Jae-young), a widower who lives with his fifteen-year-old daughter, Su-jin. One night, Su-jin is abducted and raped, and her body is left in an abandoned bathhouse. Sang-hyeon is devastated by the news. After receiving an anonymous text message with information on the culprits, Sang-hyeon decides to take matters into his own hands. He discovers that a group of teenagers raped and killed his daughter—and they recorded the whole thing. Unable to control his anger, he begins hunting the suspects to exact his revenge. Meanwhile, Jang Eok-gwan (Lee Sung-min), the detective investigating the case, tracks Sang-hyeon in hopes of stopping him before things spiral out of control. It leads to a strong climax and a great ending.

Broken is a great film. It's not a groundbreaking, genre-defining movie, but it is a strong installment in the revenge-thriller subgenre. From its foreshadowing introduction, the film develops an ominous atmosphere that clings to the audience from beginning to end. It always felt dark, drab, and unnerving. The film is also incredibly suspense and tense at times. It has an incredible first act, it stalls a bit during the second act, then it brings it home with an effective finale. The plot has been done before, but it's still compelling. It asks some significant questions about the criminal justice system as well as the human need for vengeance. It also manages to be intimate without becoming melodramatic, like other films in the subgenre. It will use certain scenes to try to tug at your heart, but it always feels authentic. It treats its subject matter with respect. I wish there was a little more development between Sang-hyeon and Su-jin before the tragedy occurs, though.

The acting was superb. Jung Jae-young was fantastic as the leading man. Aside from a scene or two, he perfectly captured his character's sorrow and fury without overacting. Lee Sung-min was great in his supporting role, too. The film was shot well. I liked the cinematography, especially in the snowing scenes. The music was good. It's about what you'd expect for the subject matter—something to get you moving emotionally. Adapted from a novel by Keigo Higashino, the film was written and directed by Lee Jeong-ho. Lee's writing and direction were good, although I'm not familiar with the source material. I think there should have been more buildup during the introduction, but it ultimately worked out. For the most part, Lee takes the safe route, refusing to take any big risks—and it works.

Overall, Broken is a great film. It is a suspenseful, thrilling, and compelling movie. It has a few minor issues and it doesn't break any new ground, but it is a competently-made and emotionally-effective experience. If you're a fan of Korean thrillers, you'll enjoy this movie. You don't see many like this in the United States these days.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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