“Confidential Assignment” offers the staple formula of one mission and two cops -- with a twist

Angela Jung, Jan. 11, 2017, 9:32 a.m.

“Confidential Assignment” offers the staple formula of one mission and two cops -- with a twist: one is from South Korea while the other hails from the neighbor to the north. The film starts out in North Korea as Lim Cheol-ryeong (Hyun Bin), an investigator from the North Korean special forces, witnesses his superior Cha Ki-seong (Kim Joo-hyuk) murder his wife and fellow team members. Cha, tired of the North Korean system of unquestioning obedience, dreams of “eternal freedom” and defects to the South with his followers and a cache of counterfeit US dollars. Lim, an uncommonly skilled investigator who is both duty-bound to his country and seeking revenge, is dispatched to South Korea to capture him. 

There, Lim teams up with South Korean cop Kang Jin-tae (Yoo Hae-jin). The polar opposite of the austere Lim, who has been trained in lethal fighting techniques, Kang is a struggling, sociable fellow burdened by the pressures of work and family. K-pop star Yoona also makes her film debut as Kang’s self-absorbed but loveable sister-in-law mooching off his income. 

On the surface, the South and North Korean investigators are to cooperate in the capture of Cha. In secret, they are each ordered by their respective governments to spy on each other and prevent the other from catching Cha.

In the tense situation, an unlikely friendship develops.

“It’s a story of how the two characters‘ relationship evolves over a three-day investigation,” said actor Hyun, after a press screening Tuesday at CGV Wangsimni.

“I wanted to become close with (Yoo) in real life, so I would go over to his house without notice and we would have a drink together,” he said. “That kind of dynamic is reflected well in the movie, I think.”

The film, director Kim Sung-hoon’s sophomore effort, offers a timeworn mix of humor, drama and action, but the two leading actors’ deft performances elevate the entertainment.

“I wanted to make an entertaining action movie,” Kim said. “Not paced like movies today, but a little slower and freer like in classic action films, where you can actually see characters’ faces and their movements during action scenes.”

“Confidential Assignment” hits local theaters Wednesday.

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