Cold Eyes (감시자들) is a South Korean remake of the 2007 Honk Kong Film Eye in The Sky. To be more precise, I should say, that it’s a slick remake. The movie really is a slick piece of film making, with great camera angles, movements and well executed editing. Much of the look of the film can be attributed to the two directors, JO Ui-seok 조의석 who directed Make It Big 일단 뛰어 and The World of Silence 조용한 세상, and KIM Byeong-seo (in his first outing in the directors seat) who was the director of photography for The Aggresives 태풍태양 and A Good Rain Knows 호 우시절. If you’ve seen those films, no matter what you thought of them over all, you know they reflect the same attributes previously mentioned.
The film tells the story of a Korean Police Force surveillance team, hunting a criminal organization and it’s cold, calculating and deadly mastermind who leads a gang of roughneck thieves. In the film, the mastermind is never referred to by name but is credited at the end of the film as James (JUNG Woo-sung).
The film starts quickly, introducing the audience via a subway ride to detective HA Yoon-Joo who’s being tested on her ability to observe and memorize by her soon to be mentor, and surveillance team leader, detective Hwang. At the very same time we meet James, who’s crime organization is about to carry out a robbery under his calculated gaze and instructions. And so begins the game of cat and mouse. It’s a great opening sequence to the film, introducing all the important roles and sets the tone for the film, with detective Ha observing everything and tracking people. A key part of the story throughout is the use of CCTV. This is well established in the opening and signifies ‘thought’ behind the making of the film.
When I said the movie was slick, I mean it in the way that one would describe a ‘look’. Eye in The Sky had a roughness to it, which added to the grittiness of the story. This is kind of important when you have a cold hearted killer as your antagonist. Cold Eyes however taps more into technology than the original ever did (though not to the extent of the world of Mission Impossible films) and with this slicker technology comes a whole new wardrobe for the cast members of Cold Eyes. I’ve never seen cops dressed so well and the same can be said of opposing characters. Outside of JUNG Woo-sung’s character, I never knew criminals had such bad dress sense or looked so damn dirty. Part of what made Eye In The Sky believable was its rougher edge. In fact I’ve never seen Seoul look so good. I know what you’re thinking, “Many films do it!”. This is true, but for me, when it’s over done, you end up taking a good chuck of believability in a film, especially when everything is too beautiful or people are too dirty. In your mind you know, the dirts “too perfect”. It affects your senses and if it doesn’t match the grit or the grime of a crime story, whats the point?
The film has a star studded cast including SOL Kyung-gu 설경구, JUNG Woo-sung 정우성, HAN Hyo-joo 한효주, LEE Joon-ho 이준호 (of 2PM), KIM Byung-ok 김병옥 and JIN Gyeong 진경. There’s also a cameo from Simon Yam who starred in 2012′s hit film The Thieves 도둑들. There are solid performances by all but I really enjoyed watching JUNG Woo-sung playing a bad guy. Being cold and heartless seems simple but there are moments where his character shows signs of cracking and its there you get to see his acting ability shine.
It’s an entertaining ride but where the film falls short is where the characters are exactly how you predict them to be. Sequences happen as you expect and much like its predecessor (Eye In The Sky) it’s far too contrived. In saying that, there are still just enough surprises and spectacular visuals to keep you entertained.
3 out of 5 ROKs
cr : word from the rok