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December 18, 2014



Kim Hong-sun - 2012
Well Go USA Region 1 DVD

Probably not the first choice for viewing in the holiday season, Traffickers is a relentlessly grim look at black market organ transplants, inspired, as they say, by true events. The film cuts between several characters, seemingly unrelated, until they are gathered on a run down cruise ship that travels from Korea to China. One of the passengers, a wheel-chair bound woman, is abducted, with surgery done by a drunk, discredited doctor. Even when one thinks all the narrative pieces have come together, Kim has a couple more surprises at the end.

Even though the story involves black market criminals, what brings all of these characters together is money, or the lack of it. The ones who profit the most, perhaps unsurprisingly, are those who need money the least.

It is near the conclusion that sense is made of the several flashbacks employed throughout the film. Even with an explanation that is suppose to tie things up, there are a couple of loose threads to the story.

I'm not going to fault Kim for being ambitious with his disjointed narrative, but not everyone can be a Robert Altman or even a Quentin Tarantino. What Kim does, that I liked, was that he would make cuts that the viewer would assume were from the point of view of one character, but are revealed to be that of someone completely different. There is just enough invention to explain why Kim won for Best New Director for the 2012 Blue Dragon Awards.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at December 18, 2014 07:33 AM