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1 review, 1 rating

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by Jay Seaver

"Man, this could have been a really good movie without that crutch."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: The characters in "Some" seem to need an awful lot of help. There's a simple story hidden under its layers of complication, and yet it still takes an extra, unexplained fantasy device to fully move the plot along. I don't want to come out against genre films being challenging, but there's enough misdirection and stuff to keep track of that I found myself occasionally wishing that "Some" was a book, so that I could easily flip back and make sure I was square on what everybody's place in the story is.

The story starts at midnight, with Seo Yu-jin (Song Ji-hyo) getting her new apartment set up. A man comes to the door, clearly expecting someone else, but accepts Yu-jin's word when she says she'll deliver the package he has for Min Jae-il. He gives it to her, and she sets her alarm for four-thirty before heading to bed. Just as she's waking up to get ready for her job as a radio traffic reporter, Detective Kang Seong-ju (Go Soo) is engaged in a high-speed chase that ends when the crooks he's chasing crash their car. They, apparently, are the ones expected to have the MP3 player now in Yu-jin's possession, so both Kang and a group of toughs converge on her. She, however, thinks it's because she accidentally took a picture of the crooks while photographing a stray cat, and doesn't think to mention the MP3 player. To make things a little more complicated, Yu-jin is having flashes of déjà vu all day, seeing things before they happen. The movie covers a roughly twenty-four hour period, midnight to midnight, in October 2004.

Some is very much an up-to-date movie, embracing technology in a manner that is not paranoid but rather matter-of-fact. It may be a little too casual; I occasionally found it hard to keep track of which mobile phone Kang was using, since he picks one up from the crash victim early on. It's perhaps excessive misdirection to not mention that an MP3 player's hard drive doesn't have to contain music until the moment when Yu-jin actually (finally) looks at the contents. Also, is it really possible for the police to track someone via their cell phone as precisely as they do in this film's last act? I'll buy that South may not be as squeamish, civil-rights-wise, as the US in this regard; I just didn't realize that it was technically possible Granted, most of what I know about this was gleaned from movies and TV that have dramatic reasons for wanting this to take just long enough for the trackee to get away.

And yet, despite being a tech-savvy movie, there's this whole "Yu-jin seeing the future" thing. The film never explains why she has these moments when she remembers things that are about to happen, but it becomes a crucial part of the plot during the film's second half, with one antagonist outright complaining that there's no way Yu-jin could have known to flee. It also sets up a "will things happen differently 'this time' or are they destined to take the same path" ending, which is even lazier than most clichés. There's enough tension built into the situation without it, and it cheapens the characters by making it seem like Kang and Yu-jin couldn't have solved their mystery without some deus ex machina magic.

What's good? The leads, for two. Song Ji-hyo picks up on the quirkiness that the script gives Yu-jin. She's smart, when focused, and some of that focus can seem a bit weird, like when she snaps about a dozen pictures of a stray cat that catcher her eye. Or how she sort of flirts over the phone with Kang while observing him (at a crime scene) on a closed circuit TV camera. Go, meanwhile, is agreeably scruffy, and makes his character look and act believable worn-down as the film progresses. His Kang isn't quite sure what to make of Yu-jin, and he makes the character fallible enough that his maverick tendencies seem equal parts recklessness and good instincts. Together, they have a weird, never-known-anyone-like-this chemistry that isn't forced to be more romantic than it necessary.

Also, director Chang Youn-hyun is as good with cars as he is with actors. None of the three car chases in this movie are as elaborate as the one he contributed to Another Public Enemy, but all are fast-moving and feature cars zipping in and out of traffic, as opposed to empty streets. He makes good use of his editing and effects crew to present Yu-jin's "flash-aheads", and is good with individual scenes. The movie as a whole has severe storytelling issues, and I'm not sure whether that's because he had to cut too close to the bone to make a two-hour run-time, or whether perhaps non-Korean speakers are stuck with a bad subtitling job.

If it were up to me, I'd have removed the whole precognition angle early in the process, leaving a little more room to focus on and detail the high-tech crime and a less-contrived third act. Not my choice, though, and Chang makes a decent, if sometimes confusing, movie.

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originally posted: 07/22/05 05:07:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2005 Fantasia Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Was'nt all that great! 2 stars
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Directed by
  Yoon-Hyun Chang

Written by
  Eun-Jeong Kim
  Eun-shil Kim

  Soo Go
  Ji-hyo Song
  Dong-kyu Lee
  Shin-il Kang
  Seong-jin Kang
  Kyeong-hun Jo

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