Except that it only cost a fraction to make, that it was made by filmmakers who seem to still believe that movies should be fun, and that it employs every cliché in the spy movie playbook, including probably some not yet invented.
The movie stars the veteran Sol Kyung-gu as Ji Kang-in, one of these rugged agents whose standard operating procedure indeed seems ruthless. He has a pre-credits teaser in Hong Kong at his disposal to prove his worth looking for a double agent and leaving bodies everywhere.
If I attempted to write a plot summary, I would most likely be writing well into next year, so let’s say that the action shifts to Shenyang in northeast China four years later. The former Seoul prosecutor Han Ji-hoon (Park Hae-soo) comes to the city now representing NIS – South Koreas answer to CIA – to check out a supposed information leak. Is there a mole in agent Ji’s team? Agent Ji sure hasn’t found the one he been looking for himself.
The banter between Sol Kyung-gu and Park Hae-soo as polar opposites makes for some good fun in between a lot of shooting and a lot of plot. The movie’s politics is equally offensive to everyone, from the North Koreans to the Japanese, while the Chinese apparently couldn’t care less as the Shenyang police is mostly nowhere in sight despite all the gunfights going on in broad nightlight.
The idea of Shenyang as a hotbed for spies is a bit like Istanbul in “From Russia With Love”, so maybe this is what the 1960s Cold War spy thrillers have developed into for the 2020s?
It’s fast-paced fun, anyway, full of blood and guts. But it’s not a movie to think too deeply about.
Review by toskomst