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by Jay Seaver

"At times, it's actually like "Speed" on speed."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2012 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Quick" is, when you get down to it, a pretty stupid action movie that tries to camouflage this fact with raw speed. The filmmakers would likely have no argument with that assessment if given it directly, just asking how well they pull the action off. And they actually do all right. Very few things that can explode last the movie without blowing up, and practically no piece of glass remains unbroken. It knows what its audience wants and panders away.

Han Gi-soo (Lee Min-ki) is a wizard with a motorcycle, although after he and his pack caused a massive accident six years ago, he now works as a courier, dispatched to get things across Seoul faster than anyone else can. This day, his cargo includes a person - Ji Chun-sim (Kang Ye-won), his girlfriend back then who is now best known as "A-Rom" of OK Girls. But there's also a twist - a bomb in her helmet that will explode if it gets too far from the headset in Gi-soo's ear or if he doesn't make certain deliveries on-time. Of course, when those deliveries turn out to be bombs, Detective Seo (Ko Chang-seok) and the rest of the police force are after them, including Kim Myeong-sik (Kim In-kwon), who used to hang out on the fringes of Gi-soo's gang and still has a massive crush on Chun-sim.

Is sending a dupe on a motorcycle around town to deliver bombs under threat of blowing up himself a convoluted plan, even before the coincidental involvement of an ex-girlfriend? Oh, yeah, especially since they are special miniaturized super-bombs, which means there are secret government, corporate, and mob angles. Honestly, the chart that the police work up for who may be targets and potential masterminds is more complicated than the ones you see in thrillers where the identity of the killer is the point, rather than a reason for chase scenes and massive explosions. To their credit, the filmmakers handle it pretty well; the solution to the mystery doesn't really matter, so director/co-writer Cho Beom-gu moves through them as quickly and smoothly as he can without them getting confusing.

After all, we're here for the action, and that certainly gets the job done. The bike chases are they kind of ridiculous ones that are just as likely to involve rooftops or crashing through buildings as weaving in and out of traffic, but Cho and company shoot them well enough to follow, the stunt team does some nifty work (although, as the outtakes in the credits show, not without injury), and the effects work for the really impossible stunts blends in near-seamlessly. The explosions are almost absurdly big, to the point of self-parody. The big ending set-piece with a runaway train and a bridge rigged to explode is certainly something that's been done before, but it's hard to argue with the execution - even a big "oh, duh, obviously we should have done that a while ago!" bit works because the audience is as caught up as the characters are.

It would be nice if Cho and co-writers Park Soo-jin and Youn JK could hit that level of excitement a little more consistently. While most of the scenarios that could potentially have Gi-soo and Chun-sim blown up are enjoyably ridiculous, the music number is well on the wrong side of the line between dumb and absurd, and it just goes on. There's also a bit of downtime that doesn't really need to be there; a movie called "Quick" should have a better reason to slow down. Cut these bits and tighten a few others up, and there's a breakneck 100-minute movie hiding in this one's 115-minute running time.

The cast is fun, though. Lee Min-ki gives Gi-soo a bit of guilt over what happened before without resorting completely to brooding or denial, so that when he has to be a bit more of a classic action hero later on, it fits well enough. Kang Ye-won does all right with the sort of female lead that can often be quite annoying - acting snotty and angry at the hero one minute, screaming and panicking the next - in that the audience doesn't find her useless; heck, she earns a bit of sympathy when the other members of the group act bitchy about her dragging their average age up by being in her mid-twenties. Yun Je-mun doesn't really get to come out and play until later in the game as the alpha villain, but he rants as maniacally as you might want, and manages a credible threat.

You might say he's got the Dennis Hopper role, although "Quick" actually has a lot more in the way of moving parts than "Speed", if you'll pardon the pun. On a certain just-counting-stuff-up level, it's more impressive - it blows things up and puts zips down the road as well as any movie - but translating raw speed and high-concept threats into genuine suspense is a bit trickier, and it could do that a bit better.

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originally posted: 08/27/12 07:22:42
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2012 series, click here.

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  DVD: 04-Sep-2012


  DVD: 04-Sep-2012

Directed by
  Beom-gu Jo

Written by
  Soo-jin Park

  Min-ki Lee
  Ye-won Kang
  In-kwon Kim
  Chang-seok Ko
  Je-Moon Yoon

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