Saturday, February 04, 2012

Quick (퀵 / Kwik)

Tick Tock

The producers of the Korean disaster movie Haeundae probably had enough of water and massive flooding in their blockbuster film, that they had turned their sights and efforts into making an action adventure that's just the opposite, this time playing with fire and bombs in an action comedy that at first glance looked very much like Jan de Bont's Speed starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. But save for some slight narrative references, Quick is very much its own film, with impressive bike and vehicular stunts in addition to the typical Korean sprawling narrative that expands it beyond a simplistic chase film.

Quick begins with a prologue about a love triangle gone awry. Super cool biker Ki-Soo (Lee Min-Ki) is seen leading a pack of mean bikers down a road during the Independence Day holiday and is nonchalant to the pursuit of Choon-Sim (Kang Hye-Won) his girlfriend whom he's trying to dump, who in turn is being chased on a bike by another suitor Myung-Sik (Kim In-Kwon). The scene ends with one big mess of an accident and pile up that leave things unresolved, and the events here will have its repercussions some six years later where the film proper picks up.

Ki-Soo has become a bike courier, putting his skills to legitimate use in order to earn a living. Choon-Sim is now one part of a massive Korean K-pop all girls group (like so many out there) and unknowingly hires Ki-Soo's services to get her from one location to another. However a switch of a helmet was made, one that contains a bomb, and soon both Ki-Soo and Choon-Sim find themselves held ransom by an anonymous bomber who communicates with them through a mobile device - that they are to deliver bombs to designated spots within 30 minutes each mission, and should they fail, or alert the cops, or remove the helmet, or do anything that's detrimental to their mission, they'll get blown up. So begins a madcap race around town to perform the dasterdly deeds, and for Myung-Sik, now a traffic cop, sort of engaged as well to bring them to justice.

Narratively this may seem like Speed, with its bomber dictating the terms that the couple have got to go through, and wielding tremendous power over his hostages to do his bidding. And the final act was really quite like the Hollywood film with it taking place on a train and Choon-Sim vested up with an improvised explosive device. But what you have to tip your hat to, is the story writers having to tie up all the loose ends in order not to make the selection of victims quite random, as well as managing an all out gang land rivalry that's taking place beneath all the bombings, leaving you guessing just who the perpetrator might really be.

And in true Korean movie style, as previously discussed with screenwriter Lee Shin-Ho, Quick has its plate full of bumbling police officers who get outwitted almost every step of the way, right down to lean and mean SWAT members being anything but capable of addressing the simplest of threats and orders, leaving it open to plenty of slapstick comedy situations. And the genuinely funny moments in the film don't even have to try too hard to bring on the laughs, with most of the cast being adapt to perfecting their respective comic timing for maximum effect.

But what truly stood out are the countless of motorcycle and vehicle stunts that pepper the film landscape, since this is after all touted as an action film first and foremost, and has enough meticulously designed sequences to thrill. The outtakes provide a glimpse at what was practical stunts involving daring stunt people who risked life and limb to make the death defying stunts believable, leaving the rest of the more hokey aspects to computer generated images. Unfortunately for the filmmakers with experience in dealing with spectacular special effects, it seemed their touch of experience got lost here, with efforts drawing too much attention to themselves with a constant over-exposure of scenes that betrayed a probable studio or soundstage setting, coupled with some CGI that were left quite unrefined that they stood out quite obviously like a sore thumb.

Quick, despite its flaws, still had enough in its tank to entertaining an audience out for a light hearted action adventure spectacle that don't come to our screens too often these days, and story and funnier bits to thank for making the film that way.

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