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August 28, 2012


quick 1.jpg

Jo Bum-Gu - 2011
Shout! Factory Region 1 DVD

The more serious minded, with longish memories, are apt to dismiss Quick as not much more than a loose remake of Speed. Keep in mind that the older film came out in 1994, and this new film is aimed squarely at the Korean teenagers, whose parents were the ones to watch Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock race against time with a bomb in bus that had to stay in perpetual motion. That the boy and girl in this film need to stay within no more than ten meters apart lest they get blown to bits makes me think of a high tech version of The 39 Steps with its hero and heroine going through most of Hitchcock's classic handcuffed to each other. Nothing about Quick will strike all but the youngest viewers as original, but that's not the point.

What Jo Bum-Gu and his team have done is create a series spectacular car crashes, chases and explosions. Nothing subtle here. It's not simply a matter of a few cars crashing into each other, but cars spinning in the air, trucks overturning, and what looks like more stunt work than several Burt Reynolds movies combined from the glory days following Smokey and the Bandit. And just to remind the audience that even in these days of computer generated effects and fakery, there's still an element of risk in making this kind of film, without outtakes displayed alongside the closing credits.

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Motorcycle courier Gi-su finds himself trapped into delivering small packages containing extremely potent bombs by an unknown person. The packages must be delivered within a certain time or they will explode, along with Gi-su. Complicating things is that Gi-su, by chance, finds the pick up he as stopped for is actually his ex-girlfriend, Chun-sim, hoping to beat traffic to a scheduled gig. Gi-su's helmet is stuck on Chun-sim, with the threat of explosion if the helmet is removed, or if the two are physically separated by more than ten meters. Pursuing the pair is Meong-sik, a former biking buddy of Gi-su's, desperately trying to overcome his reputation as Seoul's most incompetent cop.

While the emphasis is on the need for speed, my favorite scene is the comic highlight. Not seen for about six year, Gu-si finds out that Chun-sim is now a member of one of South Korea's ubiquitous pop girl groups. While Gu-si fights fans to keep within safe of Chun-sim, the helmeted singer makes a mad dash on stage to maker her performance in time. Trying to avoid explaining that the helmet is not some strange fashion statement, a few moments are given to making fun of the rivalry of the singers within the group.

Quick is the South Korean version of a "popcorn movie", and is enjoyed best with no other expectations. The final scene, with the one last unexploded bomb, is a well realized combination of humor and tension. This is the perfect movie to watch while munching on sweet chili rice snacks.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at August 28, 2012 09:44 AM