The Secret Reunion (South Korea - 2010)
Starring: Song Kang-Ho, Kang Dong-Won, Yun Hee-Seok
Director: Hun Jang
Plot: Six years after leading a bloody, botched attempt to capture a North Korean spy ring, a discharged South Korean counter-intelligence officer stumbles upon one of the North Korean agents, himself
abandoned by his country. Neither giving away the fact they know each other, they agree to work together catching runaway Vietnamese wives, biding their time to cross the other and so redeem themselves.
Review: Comparisons with Shiri may be unavoidable when first watching
The Secret Reunion, but one quickly realizes that the movie offers up much more than simple thriller clichés. The film starts with a well executed sequence, a violent assassination in an apartment complex and a failed chase across city streets. Don't be fooled, though - this is not an action film. Though two capable action scenes bookend the film (these are as good as any you'll find in a Hollywood picture) what starts out as a typical North versus South Korea thriller actually turns into an endearing melodrama and a comedy-of-errors before twisting to its inevitable violent climax. Think of it as an
espionage buddy-comedy flick, where both parties are working for the other side, playing a game of "how much does he know that I know", angling to use their
relationship to double-cross the other and gain the upper hand. Director Hun Jang sophomore effort proves he can balance all the various
elements to good effect, creating a film as well crafted as his debut Rough
Cut; it's not fancy, but it steams along nicely. To be sure, this would not have been nearly as successful if it weren't for the two leads, who show a great camaraderie built on distrust. It makes for an interesting dynamic; as amusing it is on the surface, there's a building tension in the knowledge that there's bound to be a reckoning. The affable Song Kang-Ho, deservedly acclaimed as Korea's best actor, is the spy catcher and cooler-than-cool pretty-boy Kang Dong-Won is the spy; both of them are flawed, broken men, whose respective countries has left them far behind. In the end, the film does take the easy route to a resolution, but rare is the mainstream thriller where is humor, pathos, and a definite sense of suspense intermingle so well. With an assured direction, solid production values, great pacing and wit,
The Secret Reunion is for now the most fun thriller of the year.