Hong-jin Na


(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

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Hong-jin Na (South Korea, 1974)

Hwanghae/ The Yellow Sea (2010) is a noir thriller that escalates into an apocalyptic (and highly implausible) carnage via a colorful gallery of crime bosses. At the center is an ordinary man caught in a web of deceit and revenge. At the end everybody dies except the two people who set in motion the whole story. Gu-nam, a taciturn taxi driver, is broke. He tries in vain to make money playing majong all night long. He lives in a border region where China is close to Korea. He owes a huge sum to the people who helped his wife get a visa to South Korea. Unfortunately, his wife, who left him with their little daughter, has stopped communicating and stopped sending money, a sign that most likely she found someone else. One day he is approached by a mobster who offers to pay off his debt if he will kill someone in South Korea. Gun-nam accepts. The mobster, Myun, tells him to memorize an address, asks him to bring back a finger of the victim, and threatens to kill his entire family if he screws up. Gu-nam boards a boat with dozens of illegal immigrants. When they are near the coast, the crew wakes up the passengers packed in the boat and unceremoniously throws them in launches that reach the South Korean city. He is welcome by gangsters who hand him his return ticket. He gets to the city and tracks down the "professor" he has to kill, but he also finds the time to search for his wife, which is perhaps the real reason for his journey. The restaurant where she used to work warns him that the waitresses are who worked there are basically prostitutes and his wife was probably just that. Gun-nam studies the habits of the professor he has to kill and one night even meets him in person: the professor is kind and generous, and even hands him some money beliving him a homeless person. Gun-nam prepares an accurate plan while he's still searching for his wife in markets and brothels. He finally finds someone who rememebrs her and learns that a man with a white truck found her a better job at a high-class shushi place. Gu-nam finds him and beats him up until he tells him where the shushi place is. Her apartment is a mess and the neighbor tells him that she had a big fight with a man. He turns off the light, grabs a knife, hides in a corner and patiently waits for her to return; but she doesn't.
The last night before his boat trip back home he has to act. He waits for the professor to arrive as he usually does on the car driven by his chaffeur, but then Gu-nam is surprised to see two men enter the same building, wait for the professor and then kill him. The chaffeur, instead of calling for help, hurries to finish his boss off. Gu-nam makes the mistake of coming too close, and the chaffeur, having seen him and wanting to get rid of a witness, attacks him. Gun-nam, defneding himself, kills the chaffeur. Now there is blood all over the stairs. Gun-nam nonetheless cuts the finger that he has to bring back to Myun. Meantime, the police arrive and he has to flee acrobatically. His getaway culminates in a quasi-comic police chase scene.
The news of the murder is widely broadcast on tv. Gu-nam is now looking for his wife, but the people who hired the chaffeur to kill the professor are now looking for Gu-nam, a dangerous witness. The instigator of the murder is a rich man, Tae-won, who looks like an elegant businessman, and he wants Gu-nam dead. Both the police and his gangsters are hunting Gu-nam. The police find him on a bus, and Gu-nam manages to escape only because the cops are so inept that they kill one of theirs; but the gangsters are immediately there too. Wounded, Gu-nam crosses a forest and climbs a mountain, heading towards the port. The gangsters are beating up every person somehow related to immigration from China, trying to find out how Gu-nam is planning to leave the country; but, no matter how many people they torture, nobody knows him. They conclude that he must have come through a Chinese broker and finally find out about Myun. Their boss Tae-won does not hesitate to order them to murder Myun in China. But Myun is smarter: not only he survives, but kills all the gangsters except one to make him talk. Myun travels to Korea with a little army of gangsters and calls Tae-won, who has just been interrogated by the police since he was a close associate of the murdered professor. Myun and Tae-won meet while Gu-nam has accidentally found the contact to get back to Korea, kidnapped him, tortured him and forced him to find him a passage. Tae-won accepts to pay Myun money in order to have Gu-nam killed. Myun guesses the location of Gu-nam's hideout and heads there with his army of gangsters.
Gu-nam is preparing to leave when he hears on tv of a gruesome murder: the body parts of a female immigrant have been found inside a bag and the suspect is the man of the white truck who has confessed that she wanted to leave him and return to China. Gu-nam realizes that there's a good chance that his wife is the victim. Gu-nam leaves his hideout just minutes before Myun arrives. However, the men who are supposed to smuggle him into Korea try to scam him and then try to kill him. Running away from them, Gu-nam ends in front of the gate where Myun and his men are assembling. A bleeding Gu-nam survives a frantic chase in the port and runs away in a car, chased by both Myun and the police. After countless crashes and explosions, Gu-nam drives away alone.
Now Tae-won wants to kill Myun, but Myun survives an epic knife battle in which all of his men die. Meanwhile, Gu-nam, still trapped in Korea, has adoped a new mission: he has decided to find out who started this whole mess and approaches the professor's widow to help him. A bleeding Myun, armed with an axe, tracks down Tae-won and single-handedly annihilates his gang, while a bleeding Gu-nam is also on the hunt for the same Tae-won. At the end of a bloody duel Myun butchers Tae-won but dies himself a few seconds later. When Gu-nam arrives, he hears Tae-won's last words: he ordered the professor's murder because the professor slept with his woman. All this carnage because of jealousy.
Gu-nam is ready to return hom with the ashes of his wife (he paid to have her cremated), but first there is still the mystery of who originally asked Myun to kill the professor, independently of Tae-won. Gu-nam finds out that is was a bank manager, but, when he sees him with the professor's wife, he simply walks away, perhaps tired of blood. The professor was cheating on his wife with Tae-won's woman, and the professor's wife and the bank manager wanted to start a life together. Gu-nam doesn't care. He hijacks a boat to return to China but dies during the trip.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )