Dark thriller packed with physical humour

Qiangzi's (Chen Bo-lin) road trip spins out of control when he meets a woman (Son Ye Jin, both above) injured in a car accident.
Qiangzi's (Chen Bo-lin) road trip spins out of control when he meets a woman (Son Ye Jin, both above) injured in a car accident.PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

THE STORY: Qiangzi (Chen Bo-lin) is teaching Chinese in Busan, South Korea. A leisurely road trip on Jeju Island with his younger brother Papa (Yang Xuwen) and good friends San'er (Qiao Zhenyu) and Datou (Ding Wenbo) quickly spirals out of control when they help a woman (Son Ye Jin) injured in a car accident. There is murder and mayhem as a contract killer comes after her.

Taiwan's Chen Bo-lin has been a very busy man after the success of his 2011 hit television romantic drama In Time With You.

He has several key movie releases this year, including the Anthony Chen-produced anthology Distance, which premiered at the recent Golden Horse Film Festival, and the romantic comedy Go Lala Go 2!, which is slated to open here on Dec 3.

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In this intriguing South Korea- China co-production mixing comedy, suspense and violent action, Chen Bo-lin is well-cast as Qiangzi, who gets into scuffles, but is essentially a good guy in a dark thriller filled with physical humour.

Even as mystery shrouds Korean actress Son Ye Jin's femme fatale (Who is she? What is she after?), there seems to be a different movie running alongside it.

When San'er and Datou, despite being strangers in a strange land, try to save Qiangzi and Papa who are taken hostage, the story plays more like a bumbling comedy that could well be titled Lost In Jeju.

To director and co-writer Sun Hao's credit, he manages to transition effectively from one strong thread to the other as the paths of characters criss-cross but, tantalisingly, never meet. The ending is packed with gunfire and plot twists.

While the bullets eventually find their target, some of the revelations fall short of being convincing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Dark thriller packed with physical humour'. Print Edition | Subscribe