A Korean thriller about a modern-day pirate planning a nuclear attack on the motherland. It’s the biggest production in Korean movie history, apparently, and has swishy looks, bombastic tone and frequent dips into gooey sentimentality. In other words Typhoon has half an eye on Hollywood, though its story is firmly set around the 38th parallel – two blameless kids, one grows up good (in the freedom-loving south), the other bad (damn those Commies). Getting himself caught between two stools, director Kwak Kyung-Taek isn’t sure whether to concentrate on the back story (the kids) or the front story (a dastardly plan to let loose balloons filled with nuclear waste). But his message is as clear as the lovely cheekbones of his stars, Jang Dong-Kun and Lee Jung-Jae – if only Koreans or whatever political stripe could put difference aside for one minute and learn to love one another. And along with this heartfelt though clumsily expressed sentiment, there’s plenty of blustering heroics and far too much exposition, though the Bruckheimer-esque action set-pieces, set in the midst of a raging double typhoon, will keep the eyelids pinned open.
© Steve Morrissey 2007