Swiri; Thriller, South Korea, 1999; D: Kang Je-Gyu, S: Han Kyu-Suk, Kim Yoon-Jin, Choi Min-Shik, Kim Johnny
Hi is a secret agent from North Korea who killed many politicians in Seoul. She is chased by agents Ryu and Jun from South Korea. One time, they accidentally stumble upon a smuggler in a store and capture him, but he gets killed by Hi. Ryu gets engaged to the young Hyun but gets a new assignment: CTX, a liquid almost identical to water, except that it can explode, was stolen by North Korean agents. Ryu is convinced there's a traitor in his organization and gets surprised - Hyun is actually Hi in disguise! When Jun gets murdered, Ryu discovers that CTX was placed in a soccer stadium where a game is held by the two Koreas. CTX is neutralized and Hi killed, as well as her assistants.Due to a obdurate-conventional approach towards it's story, thriller "Shiri" can be lamented upon it's hype even though it already became dated at the time of it's premiere - namely, since South Korean cinema was largely unknown in the West, such a film that appeared in it's cinemas seemed more exotic even though it's more or less a standard spy action flick. Still, that thriller, which broke all box office records in it's homeland where over 6.5 million viewers saw it in cinemas, must be congratulated for it's sheer enthusiasm and courage in the "battle" with the American cinema. Some details are interesting, like when the words "Good Bye" were written with a spray on the clothes of a corpse or when the protagonist Ryu asks himself how the "Shiri fish can cry in water". The more careful viewers will already anticipate the plot twist as soon as they notice that the story is "suspiciously" long dealing with Ryu's private life, while other flaws are the feeling that the film somehow looks cheap despite it's big budget, for instance in the masks depicting decapitated heads somewhere around the start; the hectic rhythm and the overlong running time of 125 minutes. Still, Kang Je-Gyu's competent direction finds enough attributes in this spy flick revolving around the North Korea-South Korea antagonisms, while the action has it's moments.