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Son Seung-hyun



Run time:

1h 21m

Conveyor-belt action-crime caper is a passable, if not particularly original, way to spend 80 minutes

Trevor Treharne, Online Marché du Film, June 2020

The main issue with Bodyguard is that it finds itself dropping into the crowded Korean crime genre where comparisons are inevitable. 
As such, it is not quite enough to simply combine the hapless gangsters, the damsel in distress and the hard man with a conscience once again. 
Our brooding, handsome, heart-of-gold enforcer here is Soo-han (Kang Seok-Chul) who works for a small-time loan shark outfit as a money collector.  
He seems to be a much less terrifying version of Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin) from Kim Ki-duk's Pieta (2012), with Soo-han keen to help those he collects from, while maintaining a distance and begrudging relationship with his fellow crime hoods. 
One day he sees Ye-jin (Yoo Ye-bin) being chased by gangsters and takes it upon himself to protect her, going full knight-in-shining-armour to fight them off.  
Soo-han offers Ye-jin a hide-out in his humble living quarters, but as she is the only successor of the successful Taejin Group, the gangsters keep coming and our Soo-han is the only line of defence. 
You probably could have guessed that someone being chased by gangsters in a public park might be trouble and Ye-jin proves to be just that. However, we are led to believe that Soo-han does not have much to live for, so some pro bono freelance protection work for a girl he met in the park is no bother.  
There is some comedic relief though Soo-han's gang, with Boss Jo (Lee Tae-hyung) and his rotund takeaway-gobbling sidekick Byeong-goo (Ha Jae-yeol). 
Most of these gags centre around Boss Jo’s air rifle, which he is quick to use when you opt to play games on your phone or might have some information he needs.  
The final part of the film concentrates on the action and packs in as much high-octane fighting as possible, including the one-person-versus-lots-of-people and then big-gang-fights-another-big-gang approaches, and these are entertaining enough, without anything too thrilling.  
It is debut directorial outing for Son Seung-hyun and it is interesting enough to be a reasonable first outing, but Son will eventually be expected to break the shackles of those who have probably influenced him to date.  
For the diehard Korean action-crime fans, there is probably enough here to add to a future watchlist, but it is not a rounded enough film to bother those outside of those pure genre-heads.

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