Entertaining twists take the place of a sensible plot.

by Nav Qateel

Based on the director’s own web-comic series ‘The 5ive Hearts,’ first-timer Jung Yeon-Sik’s The Five is another revenge film from South Korea, a country known for producing some of the best of this genre, with Chan-wook Park of Oldboy fame–and legendary Korean auteur who has directed more than his fair share–at the top of a lengthy list. Shot in Seoul over 11-weeks, The Five boasts an ensemble cast of fairly well-known Korean talent, with the lovely Kim Sun-A in the starring role, after a break of 5-years from cinema in favor of television. With an ensemble cast of mixed characters offering their support, The Five even provides some unexpected, but not entirely unwelcome humor, thanks to Ma Dong-Seok, whose character Nam-Cheol is constantly getting a hard time from his sick wife. This should draw some warranted sympathy and chuckles for those of you in similar circumstances, minus the crazy killer, of course.

The beautiful Eun-A (Kim Sun-A) is happily married and the couple have a wonderful 15-year-old daughter. While mother and daughter are out shopping, Eun-A’s daughter spots an older girl she knows from school. She sees the older girl with a strange man, who is introduced as her uncle, but the uncle is actually a serial-killer who doesn’t like to be recognised. After her husband and daughter are killed and Eun-A left for dead, the killer vanishes without a trace. Eun-A is left in a wheelchair but she’s determined to get the man who murdered her family, and with the help of four other desperate people, who have family that need transplants, the five set about finding and trapping the dangerous serial-killer, putting their own lives at risk.

The Five
Written & Directed by
Jung Yeon-Sik
Kim Sun-A, Ma Dong-Seok, Shin Jung-Keun, Lee Chung-Ah, Jung In-Gi, On Joo-Wan, Park Hyo-Joo
Release Date
Nav’s Grade: C+

A lot of the story is so far-fetched you’ll find yourself tsk tsking or rolling your eyes, certainly in the latter stages of the film. But it balances itself out with enough plausibility that you find yourself forgiving the craziness and just conveniently forgetting what you just saw … until the next bit of madness. You’ll also find yourself asking “why don’t they just call the cops?” Eun-A is now living in relative poverty, and with nothing to offer but her body parts, that’s exactly what she uses. The lovely Kim Sun-A’s transformation after she survives her attack is pretty convincing, but I’m not sure why director Yeon-Sik thought she needed the same hairdo as Oldboy‘s Oh Dae-Su.

Sun-A managed her role as the down-but-not-out Eun-A with the right amount of gloom and doom, and one of the people who assist her, Ma Dong-Seok as a loving but hassled husband was probably my favorite out of the entire cast. The last film in which I’d seen the busy Dong-Seok appear was Azooma, where he also put on a good performance. As the serial-killer, On Joo-Wan was at times very convincing, but the unrealistic comebacks took whatever authenticity he’d put into his character away, leaving him a somewhat less than scary bad guy. Park Hyo-Joo as the persistent bible-thumping friend was another good character who added a solid amount of depth to a story that could have done with even more.

In typical Asian cinema fashion, The Five had a running-time of 123-minutes, but in this instance felt around 20-minutes too long. The direction also didn’t feel as controlled as one would have prefered, with the focus slipping away at key moments a bit too often. That said, this is Yeon-Sik’s first movie and it provided plenty entertainment where it counted. The ending won’t satisfy everyone, particularly those who like their revenge served as cold as possible, but the abundance of twists, turns and occasional bloodshed, should please the majority.