Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Directed by Owen Cho
Starring: Hae-jin Yoo and Ho-jin Chun

Described as OLD BOY set in a hospital room, ENEMY AT THE DEAD END is another notch in the Korean revenge film.  Though initially it seems dark and ominous, the film ends up part revenge thriller, part mystery, and part dark comedy.

A man, Min-ho, is in a hospital after having a stroke, not wanting to help himself and is suicidal.  However, when he gets a new roommate, Sang-up, Min-ho recognizes him.  There's a past between these two.  But Sang-up has amnesia, and doesn't even remember how he got there.  Min-ho uses this to his advantage by slowly tormenting his roommate.  Slowly though, Sang-up's memory begins returning, and he remembers that he knows Min-ho somehow.

Director Owen Cho is a master at building tension.  Initially both men cannot walk, thus they must strain and almost put themselves through pain to gain the upper hand.   As each man tries to rehabilitate quicker than the other one, they each find more and more creative ways to torture each other.  From the standard of swiping the knife at dinner to getting creative with soap, each "fight" between them is interesting and funny in a very twisted way.  With each new revelation, it's hard to pick a side in this battle because each man comes off as equally crazy and almost senile.  

The atmosphere created is ominous and dark.  By keeping a majority of the action in the single hospital room, Cho has created an almost claustrophobic effect with each building interaction.  As the mystery begins to unravel coupled with our patients growing stronger, the tension escalates and eventually culminates into one of the slowest yet most realistic fights I've seen in recent memory. 

All in all, ENEMY AT THE DEAD END is a solid entry into the revenge film genre.  The story arc isn't groundbreaking, but the use of space the creativity of the interactions are worth a look.  

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