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Although not technically Korean films, these works are of great interest to many fans of Korean cinema, so we will be providing a separate page (coming soon) for reviews of these and other "not quite Korean" films. It appears that someone in the North Korean embassy has been selling secrets and is now preparing to defect to the South.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2013, the one massive project on the horizon is Bong Joon-ho's SF epic Snowpiercer, expected to reach theaters in August. Pyo begins to suspect his estranged wife Ryeon Jeong-hee (Jeon Ji-hyun, a.k.a. Meanwhile the Northern headquarters is sending Dong Myung-soo (Ryoo Seung-beom, Perfect Number), a sadistic interrogator and cold-blooded assassin, to clean up the mess.
Another problem is the strangely unconvincing characterization of Han Suk-kyu's Agent Jeong, compared to his Northern counterparts. DP Choi Young-hwan (The Thieves), reunited with Ryoo after a decade following their collaboration in No Blood No Tears (2002), and Lighting Director Kim Seong-gwan portray Berlin, through impressively extensive location shooting, as a city pregnant with old secrets, bustling with busy population yet pocketed with dark corners and wood-paneled back rooms.
The hand-to-hand combat choreography, designed by Ryoo's longtime collaborator Jeong Doo-hong and Seoul Action School, actually works better when it is essentially two people smashing each other with various kitchen implements and office tools in a narrow apartment corridor.
Go featuring a CG animated gorilla, from the director of 200 Pound Beauty and Take Off. As the film opens, North Korean intelligence officer Pyo Jong-seong (Ha Jung-woo, Yellow Sea, The Terror Live) is negotiating an arms deal with a band of Middle Eastern terrorists. Many domestic viewers compared the film to the Jason Bourne series, but despite a few superficial concession to the latter's fragmentary style, The Berlin File is a throwback to the "serious" espionage thrillers of '60s and '70s, films such as The Quiller Memorandum (1966, also set in Berlin and written by Harold Pinter), A Dandy in Aspic (1968) and Three Days of Condor (1975).
On the contrary, Ryoo's film departs from most current South Korean hits featuring North Korean agents, such as Secret Reunion (2010) and Secretly, Greatly (2013), in that he eliminates South Korea as a site of consumer-capitalist everyday activity into which pretty boy Northern agents have to assimilate themselves.
Jeon matches him blow by blow as a radiant beauty whose disappointment in her husband (and her life) is eating her from inside out.
And as usual, Ryoo Seung-beom is fantastic as a sadistic, leering North Korean assassin, who perfectly captures the mock-suave panache of a European-boarding-school-educated, jet set kid easing into a life of immediate (material) gratification and criminal activities.
Positive word-of-mouth then helped the film to achieve a level of publicity and box office success almost unheard of for independent films.
The early part of 2013 also marked the anticipated Hollywood debuts of Korean directors Park Chan-wook (Stoker) and Kim Jee-woon (The Last Stand). A) operatives headed by Jeong Jin-soo (Han Suk-kyu, Villian and Widow). Pyo barely escapes with his life, but manages to elude Jeong, obsessed with bagging him.
Although this doesn't bear directly on her role in How to Use Guys with Secret Tips, her slightly "tough" image remains in the back of viewers' minds, and is toyed with in certain scenes.