At The Movies: The God Committee asks if one can put a value on a human life

A still from the film The God Committee starring Kelsey Grammer. PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

The God Committee (PG13)

99 minutes, opens on May 26

3 stars

The story: A donor heart has unexpectedly arrived at a New York City hospital. The transplant committee has just one hour before the organ expires to decide which of three patients deserves to be the beneficiary.

Three reasons to watch this film:

1. Conflicting characters

Kelsey Grammer is the eminent surgeon, a chain-smoking cynic; Julia Stiles is his young protegee and secret lover; while Janeane Garofalo chairs the board. They are an intelligent ensemble who make believable doctor types, and rounding out The God Committee are a head nurse, a priest and a psychiatrist.

2. Knotty dilemmas

Julia Stiles plays a young protegee and secret lover of an eminent surgeon in The God Committee. PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

This medical morality play based on a same-name stage production is like an emergency room edition of 12 Angry Men (1957) as the six flawed, agonised individuals confine themselves in a conference room emergency session to exercise their godly life-saving powers.

They intensely parse the candidates' histories. They heatedly debate science versus sentiment, and ethics versus a US$25 million (S$34.4 million) endowment. (A bribe, really.)

3. Thoughtful entertainment

The dramatic tension dissipates whenever the story, which is set in 2014, steps out for various subplots, going as far as seven years later to consider gene-editing and the consequences of the committee's choices.

But its troubling core question remains compelling: How does anyone quantify the value of another human life?

The Roundup (NC16)

Don Lee is back as tough guy Detective Ma Seok-do in The Roundup.
PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

106 minutes, opens on May 26

3 stars

The story: Four years after the Garibong District operation in The Outlaws (2017), Seoul's Major Crimes Unit is on assignment in Vietnam when it uncovers the bloody trail of a sociopath, a South Korean fugitive who is killing tourists. Not to worry, because Don Lee is back as tough guy Detective Ma Seok-do.

Two reasons to watch this film:

1. Er, what is The Outlaws?

South Korea's sleeper hit of 2017 was a crime action caper that promoted Lee to movie star. The Korean-American actor might never have been a Marvel Comics superhero in Eternals (2021) otherwise.

The Roundup is topping the domestic box office. This sequel features a new case, so you do not have to see the original. It is like any number of cop K-dramas you have seen before anyway, even if it is expertly done.

Lee and his returning teammates share slapstick camaraderie, and their investigation maintains rambunctious energy to climax in a thrilling extended car chase.

2. Lee is a huge attraction

A still from the film The Roundup starring Don Lee. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

He is 200kg of personality, intimidating yet likeable.

One reason to not watch this movie:

1. Lee is also the problem

The villain (Son Suk-ku) is gruesome. But the detective pummels suspects and pins them down, and his jokey violence is the least amusing amid an ongoing worldwide outcry against police brutality.

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