In this Korean action thriller, a Korean ex-patriot with debts and a gambling problem agrees to kill someone in order to get out of his tight corner. Starting from China, he travels to Korea where the target awaits. He is transported illegally in the storage part of a ship where people vomit from seasickness and the food has maggots on it. He also keeps fantasizing about his wife who left him. A slow burn feeling of desperation and despair is created like in some of the best film noirs. The point of view is kept strictly with him so there is no question where sympathies are supposed to lie. Director Na Hong-jin, of The Chaser fame, superbly executes the planning of the murder, how the murder goes wrong, and a fantastic chase that follows. This chase is one of the best in recent memory. It combines elements of a foot chase and a car chase. Strong applause followed it in the theatre. The first half is terrific with a very clear linear plot.
But then the plot becomes convoluted. Various factions want the main character dead and some motivations are not clear. It is as if the script and director did not how to juggle multiple points of view after staying so brilliantly with a single one. However, this is punctuated by fabulously executed bloody brutal violence and one other really good chase; this one is strictly a car chase. So hell-bent are two characters on killing each other that they seemingly ignore the police chasing them.
A boss from China, the one responsible for the illegal transportation, has nasty fighting abilities with a hatchet that almost seem surreal in one fight. He truly loves his hatchet. No guns are used except by the police. This makes the violence all the more painful and brutal as stabbing and chopping are the main means of inflicting pain and killing. It is much more personal than in the simple bang-bang of most American productions.
This overall is another strong showing from South Korea. They serve revenge with gallons of bloody pain and do not let you forget it for a second. As a whole, its strengths out muscle its flaws and makes for a bloody good time.