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Believer

Dok-jeon

Oldboy meets The Usual Suspects in this hall-of-mirrors thriller, as a dogged South Korean narcotics officer tries to smoke out a shadowy drug baron.

Dir Lee Hae-young
Prod Lim Syd, Jung Hee-soon
Scr Lee Hae-young, Chung Seo-kyung
With Cho Jin-woong, Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Sung-ryoung
South Korea
2018
123min
Sales Contents Panda
Subtitles

Attempting to remake a modern classic should never be advised, but Lee Hae-young’s razor-sharp reinvention of Johnnie To’s superb 2012 thriller Drug War is an exception to the rule. It starts with a narcotics cop Won-ho (Cho Jin-woong) meeting a teenage junkie to find out more about an elusive drugs kingpin named Mr Lee. The girl is abducted before he can gather any concrete information, but a subsequent explosion at a meth lab brings him into contact with Rak (Ryu Jun-yeol), a low-level runner whom Won-ho believes will introduce him to Mr Lee’s inner circle. Following the tough terrain of To’s original bullet opera, but adding some inspired psychological levels, director Lee’s film also profits from the performances of his two superb leads, who keep us guessing as to how their mind games will play out.

Damon Wise

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