Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It brings me no joy to crap on Thomas Dixon’s movie ‘The Korean’, no joy whatsoever. You see if I had little money and desired to make a movie, this is the kind of movie I would try to make. Not some slow moving sentimental relationship drama, but a movie with revenge and shooting and killing and hitmen and hitwomen and murder… this is what I would try to make because as a dude who watches movies, this is what I want to see. But even though all that stuff was in this movie it just didn’t work. Brings me absolutely no joy.

Josiah D. Lee is the hitman Lee who is the top guy for the unseen ubiquitous mobster we will know as C.B. When we first meet Lee he is talking to his nihilistic lover and rival assassin Lissia (Jennifer Vos) who is whining about trying to get out of the game with Lee attempting to soothe her and let her know that he is there to take care of her, but in the next scene he’s like shot to death, so it’s not looking like that’s not gonna happen. We’re going to see this scene like three more times so burn it into memory.

So how did Lee end up on a hardwood floor with bullets in his chest? Well, let’s go back a few hours with a call from his boss who sent him a package with a dossier of some people to take out. Thing is some of these people are friends of his and one these people he’s having sex with on the regular, but whaddayagonnado? It’s business.

Now Lee is on his way to eliminate these people who have double crossed or stabbed his boss in the back in some way. These people would Lissia, Lissia’s evil boss Sachton (Rick Billok), Jude (John Yost) the dirty police chief and Lee’s best friend Ray (Jack Ehrle). We’re not going to get all into the effrontery, but it involves cash, dead dignitaries and one of those valuable items that resides in a silver case that we will never get to see. Lee tracks down all of these people, but he doesn’t kill anybody and then we see him dead on the floor again.

So how did Lee end up on a hardwood floor with bullets in chest? Again? Well, let’s go further back a few years with Lee as a boy hanging out with his older brother Adam (James Cadenhead). We’re not going to get into all in the details of that but Lee has been looking to avenge Adam for about twenty or so years with all of the other details of how Lee ended up on a hardwood floor being filled in, which include more double crosses, an angry Arab dude with missing thumbs and some crazed Jihadist, among other things, with it all ending with Lee lying face down on a hardwood floor with bullets in his chest. Again. There you go.

There are issues with ‘The Korean’ my friends. The first would be the style in which writer / director Thomas Dixon has chosen to tell his story. The narrative goes back and forth as we watch the same scenes a number of times, but not necessarily from a different perspective but with a little more background information on why whatever is happening is happening. I don’t think that worked all that well here. This particular technique added unnecessary length to the movie, added unnecessary confusion to the narrative and completely threw off the pace of the movie. I’m thinking this particular tale would’ve been much better served by simply starting at the beginning until it reached end, but then that’s just my opinion on things.

Another issue is The Korean himself, Josiah D. Lee, gave his character almost no personality. I dig the whole ‘Ice Cold Assassin’ thing, even though I don’t recall this assassin actually killing anybody, but even when he was with his girl or hanging out with his boy or mourning over the spot where his brother was killed he gave us middle C throughout the entire movie. Maybe a little variation in the characters tone would’ve helped us get a little closer to the guy, relate to his plight a little better. It didn’t help that actor Jack Ehrle as his best friend was as colorful as colorful can get which only accentuated on how dead a personality the character of Lee was. And the whole ‘I’m pointing my gun at you and you’re pointing you’re gun at me' thing might have been cool back in the 80’s and early 90’s with John Woo’s ‘The Killer’ and the like but I think that cinematic technique has run its course. It’s probably best if someone pulls a gun on you that they just pull the trigger and not have a conversation.

There are other little story elements which seemed odd, mainly the mobster C.B. trusting hitman Ray to do this thing he wants done as opposed to the guy he actually trusts, but what ultimately does ‘The Korean’ in is the fractured way this story was delivered to us and some suspect acting performances. And I really, really wanted to like this one.

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