REVIEW: VETERAN (베테랑) IS A VERY FUNNY AND VERY VIOLENT CRIME FILM
Veteran (베테랑) is at times, like many Korean films, many different things. It ranges from a hilarious comedy of older, experienced detectives, to incredibly violent displays of cruelty and abuse. In between all that, there's the plight of the little guy, political corruption (as always) and a great divide between the powerful and the weak. When writer-director Seung-Wan Ryoo finds a careful balance of these elements, Veteran takes off.
Veteran follows experienced detective, Seo Do-Cheol (Jung-Min Hwang) as he discovers that someone who helped him on a previous case has attempted to commit suicide. What he soon finds out is that a rich businessman, Jo Tae-Oh (Ah In Yoo) is at the centre of an all expanding rap sheet.
Veteran takes time to find its footing, attempting to establish Seo Do-Cheol's team of misfit detectives and his very hilarious Team Leader Oh (Dal-Su Oh). However, we really know whether Do-Cheol's team is meant to be experienced or incompetent, and we never really get enough time with the other secondary characters to get a feel for who they are beyond their funny quirks.
The narrative doesn't begin to make sense until Jo Tae-Oh and Seo Do-Cheol meet in a very peculiar scenario that could have been far more realistic. Nevertheless, Ah In Yoo's portrayal of the villain in this film is perfectly cruel. He goes all in on Ryoo's script at every turn, with manic displays of both violence and restrain. I have no problem with blood and violence, but the extent that Jo Tae-Oh goes to show us just how bad of a guy he is is refreshing. Animal cruelty and female abuse are just two instances of many.
The action sequences in this film are fantastic and they really draw the audience in. Unlike many blockbusters, Veteran doesn't throw the action in your face,. Rather it builds from scene to scene, slowly escalating the stakes until the very last few scenes which are really quite exciting. There is a final showdown between Seo Do-Cheol and Jo Tae-Oh which was just a delight to watch, as was every action segment in the movie.
Equally deserving of praise is the comedy in this film. Comedy and action go hand in hand with timing, with both the actors and directors doing a fantastic job of balancing the two. I often found myself laughing and going 'damn' in the same breath.
Veteran isn't for everyone. The violence really can make you gasp but it is a film that eventually finds its rhythm. Once we kind of get a feel of who everyone is and how everything comes together, Veteran makes for a fun action flick with great comedy to boot.
PLAYBACK RATING: WATCH/WATCH IT AGAIN
Veteran was viewed at KOFFIA, 2016 in Sydney. Be sure to check out upcoming movies in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth.