Hindsight (2011) reviewed by Wai Lu Yin

Director: Lee Hyeon Seung
Casts: Song Kang Ho, Shin Se Kyung, Cheon Jeong Myeong, Lee Jong Hyuk, Kim Min Jun, Yoon Yeo Jung, Kim Roe Ha, Oh Dal Su
Genre: 125 minutes
Running Time: Action, Crime, and Romance

A legendary retired gangster Yoon Doo Hun (Song Kang Ho) dreams of opening restaurant. So, he decided to enrol in a cooking class. That’s where he gets to know Jo Se Bin (Shin Se Kyung) who is in her 20s. Doo Hun hears the news that Man Gil has died after being hit by a car. The gang members decide to arrange someone to kill Doo Hun because even while they look for Man Gil’s will, they expect the successor to be Doo Hun. On the other hand, Se Bin’s roommate Lee Eun Jing has become indebted to some Haeunde moneylenders. Se Bin is forced to spy Doo Hun so she can save Eun Jung. After Eun Jung steals a suitcase of cocaine from the moneylenders, Se Bin is ordered to kill Doo Hun. However, she can’t bring herself to do it but she is being pressured by the assassination leader. Eun Jung attempts to kill Doo Hun but after that she disappears. Doo Hun survives and determines to find Man Gil’ killer. Along the way, he maintains his relationship with Se Bin even though there is a generation gap.

Director Lee Hyeon Seung stated two aims for making this film: (1) reduce the generation gap among the audiences and (2) experiment and combine different genres. With that, he has fulfilled those. In this film, Doo Hun and Se Bin’s relationship is close even there is a big generation gap between them. Such examples are the use of touch screen mobile phones, photo booths, Doo Hun bought her some clothes, and when they are on a date. I can see that the director is trying to break in the barrier between the younger generation and the older generation which includes understanding the audiences. The director addresses the issues about the youth unemployment which is quite bad at the moment. Probably that is the reason why he does so because he understands how the younger generation have been going through in their daily lives. I believe the film portrays how people from two different generations can communicate really well without any discrimination. Song Kang Ho and Shin Se Kyung’s chemistry in acting are perfect of how it should be portrayed in the film. I love how there is the connection through their actions and emotions which makes me laugh and cry. You can look at them either a lovely couple or a father and daughter relationship. It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s breaking the barriers on age differences that count.

The second aim which the director intended to do is done. He has taken this film into a soft and mellow tone of a combination of action, crime, and romance. Instead of not focusing too much on killing and shooting each other, he has took on the characters who are dealing with their problems. For example, Se Bin attempts to kill Doo Hun but she has feelings for him and doesn’t want to break this friendship/relationship. However, at the same time, she doesn’t want to lose her friend, Eun Jung. She also is being pressured by the gangs. Shin Se Kyung did tried to do a lot of training in action scenes before but because of the timing in filming, the director decided to go for a mellow tone in this film. That is why you can see there’s some romance and sentimental moments between Doo Hun and Se Bin. Then, you have Doo Hun, a retired gangster leader, who has a softer side of his. He’s being sweet and caring for Se Bin while shooting and killing people because he wants to know who Man Gil’s killer is. Song Kang Ho is a great actor which I admired very much because of two sides of him: the happy uncle whom everyone would love and a killer who has the angry glares. In this film we can see gangsters and I asked the director is there any difference between Hong Kong gangster films and Korean gangster films like ‘Hindsight’ and ‘Old Boy’. He points out that Korean gangster films are influenced by Hong Kong and Hollywood films but in Korean gangster films, these focus on the society and sentimental issues. However, in this film, I don’t feel the ‘impact’ from the action scenes including the car chase. Those are not strong enough. Looking at the bright side, the mixture of genres is not complicated in this film. It is truly smooth sailing including the storyline itself.

I noticed that, beside this film, the previous ones (‘Sunset into the Neon Lights’ and ‘The Blue in You’) are mostly focus on feminism. Each main female character portrays their strong and sensitive emotions. They portray how women dealt with their life and society. This is why I asked the director why he focuses mostly on this subject. He shares his experience and his interests in feminism. When he was a university student, he studied feminism and he came across a Korean novel which is based on that subject. He realized and surprised about how women have dealt in the society. That is why he wanted to explore about feminism. From those three films including ‘Hindsight’, he introduces feminism on not only the strong female characters but also the relationship with men in their daily lives and society. Not much female directors in the tough Korean film industry because of the funding and the subjects which are touch upon on. So, I hope that female directors would have the opportunity to feature their works. If there films which are made by female directors, I will definitely look into that.

As for the ‘happy’ ending, I got a lot of questions in my mind. Is it a dream or a reality? How on earth Doo Hun comes back to life after being shot by Se Bin? How they manage to escape and open a restaurant in the Philippines? It was quite unexpected for me. I thought that will be end of Doo Hun and Se Bin will be with Eun Jung in a happy friendship. Then again, I like the ending. Even though this ending is good, but it just built up my curiosity while wondering these questions. I guess that is the mystery which I might or might not able to solve them.

Director Lee Hyeon Seung has made a great comeback after spending ten years away from filmmaking. Within those ten years, he did teach students at the university on filming, writing scripts, and making short films. He had to make decision: promoting the standards of film industry or going back to filmmaking. The decision is that he decides to go back to filmmaking. He has made the right choice. I am impressed with this film and I welcomed him back on doing filmmaking. He is developing himself in filmmaking by exploring different subjects and communicating with casts and crews. A great start for him and I’m looking forward to his upcoming films. Thumbs up to ‘Hindsight’.

Rating: 8/10

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

London United Korean Fan Club

London United Japanese Fan Club