REVIEW: THE CLASSIFIED FILE (극비수사) IS DETECTIVE MEETS FORTUNE TELLER
The Classified File is your typical crime drama, with a twist.
Based on a true story, the movie is set in Busan and follows veteran detective Gong Gil-yong (Kim Yoon-seok) as he tries to track down a young girl, Eun-joo (Hwang Chae-Won), who has been kidnapped.
Although the character introductions are extremely brief, Gong is established as a proud detective, taking bribes from the rich to solve big cases. He is confident and somewhat heartless, caring more about his personal gains than solving the actual crimes. But when Eun-Joo goes missing, a sceptical detective and his unexpected fortune-teller sidekick set out to find her.
All the elements of an exciting crime thriller are dragged down by repetition and the feeling that the story isn’t really going anywhere. The Classified File ends up to be a series of phone calls made by the kidnapper demanding ransom and asking to meet in various locations around Busan, and then Seoul. At some moments, The Classified File proved to be a surprise, but these moments were dragged down by the laborious series of events that feel more like a chore.
It starts off fast-paced, but ends up feeling rushed. There isn’t enough of a backdrop or context to the story and it jumps right into Gong teasing Kim about his “voodoo” beliefs. When Kim’s first prediction comes true, however, Gong decides to have a little bit more faith. Even then, the action is lacking and the film is rather empty.
This may be due to the fact that the film is based on a true story, but I expected a movie labelled a crime drama to have a bit more crime, and a bit more drama. Perhaps a deeper look into the crimes Gong had solved in the past would have added to his character development.
Although the suspenseful scenes were great, with shaky unfocused camera work and disrupted shots backed with an eerie soundtrack, the actual rescue scene was kind of anticlimactic.
Beyond the narrative, the characterisation of Gong was a highlight for me throughout the film. At the beginning, he was slightly stuck up and had all the confidence in the world, but as the film progressed, he learnt to work with others, allowing them to help him complete his mission. He became more down-to-earth and relatable, and was a character I thoroughly enjoyed.
That being said, if you’re one for fast-paced films or a decent time filler, The Classified File will keep you mildly entertained. I probably wouldn’t pay money to see it, though.
The Classified File was viewed at KOFFIA, 2016 in Sydney. Be sure to check out upcoming movies in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth.