Howling (Yoo Ha, 2012)
I had this pretty wrong in my mind from the outset. Being American, I was thinking Gary Brandner, of course, while Yoo Ha was firmly planted in Kiyoshi Kurosawa territory. Which does not make this a bad film, but if you, too, saw the movie’s first trailer and immediately started thinking “supernatural”, you might be disappointed.
Ha (Dirty Carnival) turns in a pretty standard police procedural centered around two detectives, Sang-Kil (Thirst‘s Kang-ho Song) and Eun-yeong (Na-yeong Lee, the actress whose near-death on the set of Ki-duk Kim’s Dream was the inspiration for his documentary Arirang), thrown together to battle not only a seemingly vicious—and possibly inhuman—killer, but a department that’s failed them both (Sang-kil was recently passed over for a deserved promotion, while Eun-yeong is fighting the department’s rampant sexism). Once the detectives discover the “who” of the opening crime and start digging into the “why”, Eun-yeong finds the possibility of redemption for a life in tatters in an emotionally scarred animal.
It starts out the kind of thriller one expects from the Southeast Asian film market—tight, well-paced, atmospheric. The second half breaks down somewhat, but not enough to make it not worth your time; it’s still quite a good time, even if you end up having to suspend way more disbelief than you think you should (and not in the expected direction, either). Worth checking out if you’ve nothing better to do, but not something you need to go out of your way to see. ** ½
Two unsubbed trailers in a row!