Film Reviews, Short Review

황해 [The Yellow Sea] (2010)


A South Korean action thriller about Gu-nam (Ha Jung-Woo), an impoverished taxi driver in the Yanbian Prefecture (a part of China that’s majority Korean), who is forced to go to Seoul to perform a mafia hit whilst also looking for his missing wife, who herself went to South Korea to seek a better life, with things quickly falling apart from there. Whilst The Yellow Sea does admirable deal with xenophobia, social exclusion and migration (which domestic audiences are better equipped to understand than I), it ultimately fails as a thriller. Na Hong-jin directs almost every action sequence with plenty of shaky-cam, draining the violence of its gruesome impact, and the story very quickly devolves into utter incoherence (although I suspect this is partially the point, even if it is unsuccessful). There are some excellent scenes though; Na takes us through the planning of the hit step-by-step, and the first half of the film is crackling with nervous, outsider tension. Shame it isn’t sustained.


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