The Chronicles of Evil / 악의 연대기 (2015) Korean Movie Review : The “What” of “What”?

The Chronicles of Evil (2015) Korean Movie Review : The “What” of “What”?

Keywords: #악의연대기 #SonHyunJoo #손현주  #ParkSeoJoon #박서준

Hello. This is Prof. AKIA with a “The What? of What?”  lecture about a new Korean movie. For those who are new, I’m a Korean who talks and reviews Korean movies on this blog.


Today’s topic is “The Chronicles of Evil” or “악의 연대기” (2015) starring Son Hyun-Joo /손현주  and Park Seo-Joon /박서준 .  


Oh! Thrillers…
How might the mighty have fallen!

For Hollywood, the movie genre of “Thrillers” had its heyday during the late 80s and early 90s. In the case of Korean movies which tend to lag 10 to 15 years behind Hollywood in terms of its industry trends, the mid-2000s was a pretty good time for “Thrillers”.

Just think about it!
Recall any Korean Thrillers of the 2000s?

The “Thriller” genre, in a lot of ways, is the pit-stop between the “drama” and “action” movie genres. Their target audiences are people who want more excitement than watching a “Drama” but are not totally satisfied with the “action” movie of the day. It is an uneasy compromise between two competing needs of the audience.

And like all lukewarm compromises go, no one was really satisfied.
But it still was enough for a while…

However the 21st century came along and ended up kicking the “Thriller” genre to the curb as “Dramas” got more commercial and “Actions” got more….

It just got more!

What else can I say about “Action” movies living in an era where men wearing tights is the biggest movie of the day?

A similar thing happened to Korean “Thrillers” coming into the 2010s. There was a massive dip in both interest and the quality of output. So, now we get movies such as “The Chronicles of Evil / 악의 연대기” (2015).

The Plot
I would call “The Chronicles of Evil / 악의 연대기” (2015), in a few words, a failed hybrid of “serious” cop procedural with and a melodramatic juvenile villain revenge cartoon.

You have the “top dog” veteran detective played by “Son Hyun-Joo” getting attacked by a taxi driver after a night of drunken celebration. He had just gotten a “big deal” commendation and his promotion was now locked in.

During the struggle, the assailant falls on his own knife and he dies. Our protagonist freaks out and leaves the scene after hastily trying to cover his tracks. Suddenly the next day, the body ends up handing from a construction crane right in front of the police headquarters.   


And then there is Park Seo-Joon’s character …

I’ll talk about him later!

The requirements of a Thriller

What makes a thriller?
This is not an easy question to answer.

It can be said that a good thriller handles either of the following two things well. First is the mystery that the protagonist is either chasing or is chasing him or her. This could be a conspiracy, a crime, or a criminal. While it does not need to be elaborate, it has to be at least intriguing in concept to hook the audience.  

You need to then meticulously reel them in.

In terms of execution, it needs is to lay out pieces of information regarding this mystery in a meticulous manner that the audience is just one or two steps behind until the end.

And then you drop it on the audiences’ heads!

Second is the mystery that is the protagonist. When the character is introduced at the start of the movie, we, the audience, only have a brief first impression about who he. We do not know who the protagonist is underneath the façade shown to us during this short time.

What has he done?
What will he do?

All of this is a mystery and becomes a prominent factor in the audience’s minds because of the extremely abnormal circumstances of a thriller movie. In addition, you cannot even be confident what the movie has shown you initially were not just an outright misdirection.

It is what Thrillers do!

Thus, as the movie progresses, the mystery of who the protagonist is unravel before the audience’s eyes.

I mean good movies do this!

Some movies go for one of these two. Others go for both. However, being a decent thriller movie only really need the pull of one of these off successfully. Great ones, on the other hand, go for broke and are successful at both.

Whatever one decides to do, it is not easy!

In the case of “The Chronicles of Evil”, it goes full on and falls on its nose than rebounds to bash its rear head in the same place because it was not only ambitious but also very lazy.

That is a bad combination.

How to not make a mystery interesting
The Chronicles of Evil” is a total failure in term of being a thriller movie. It fails at both the mystery and the character which is the worst you can do. An interesting thing is that there is no real inherent reason for this movie to be such a failure.

Let’s talk about the mystery!

The basic setup of the movie is not particularly innovative but it is a decent enough for a setup. The question of both “who” and “why” in terms of the setup is immediately intriguing.  However, the movie dropped the ball here.

The problem with “The Chronicles of Evil” (2015) is twofold in this area. First, the actual “hidden” secret behind the curtain is over the top and small scope at the same time.

You end up saying that “you made this whole mess for that?”
Why? Are you crazy?
And yes, the answer is yes.

The second is that the movie does not put the proper legwork into solving this mystery. Because of its complexity, the mystery requires the movie to start from point A and end up at point Z traversing through every other point in between them in meticulous manner.  However, The Chronicles of Evil” (2015)  ends up at point Z skipping over it all of the point except for about 2 or so. As a result, all of the characters just come off awfully lucky and stupid.

In fact, for a 104 minute movie, there is less material here than a 45 minute episode of an American crime procedural show like “Bones” or “Castle”. Thus, there is huge gap in the middle of the movie bookended by over the top events.

So, the movie sucks in one area.
What about the second requirement I mentioned previously?

The Movie is a failure in that area also.

The failure to be either a “Chronicles” or “Evil”!
The problem is that the protagonist of The Chronicles of Evil” (2015) is basically a non-entity in terms of character and as a story telling device. Throughout most of the movie, the protagonist, who is in a serious predicament, basically does nothing for most of the movie and, when in moments he actually acts, he comes off as a huge idiot to the degree that it is not particularly believable that he was a rising star in the police department.  

This problem originates in both the writing and the performance. Let’s go over the writing first.

Why is the movie called The Chronicles of Evil” anyway?

The movie, early on, has a line of dialogue stating that “even a good person can act in an evil manner when the situation arises” coming out of the protagonist’s mouth. Combined with the title of the movie, you may see what the initial ideas behind the movie were. It seems to be to examine the birth and spread of evil among people under stress and duress within a serious cop movie.

That seems to have been the idea.
But it is not what the movie really ended up being about.

I think that the writer tried to work on it for about a weekend and then gave up because it was too much effort. Subsequently, the writer must have typed out this script in the next 2 or 3 days by filling in the missing parts with typical Korean melodrama and sentimentalism that would make the movie “Point break” (1991).

In fact…
The movie actually recreates the famous “Point break” (1991) shooting into the air scene!

I would be surprised if this script took more than a week to write considering how Korean drama writers knock out 2 hours of scripts every week.

What we are left with is an interesting setup and a boring but, at the same time, over the top and melodramatic story with a few inserts of “cops being corrupt”.

Nothing special there!

In regards to the portrayal of the protagonist…

Who ever thought letting Son Hyun-Joo carry the whole movie was a good idea?

The Casting
While I never thought he was a leading man, I have some decent impressions of Son Hyun-Joo /손현주 as an actor. He has been in Korean movies and dramas for a while now and he does decent work. However, he is very limited in what he can do which are basically variations of being a passive nice guy who is also damaged.

Nice but rigid guy
Nice but secretly insecure guy
Nice but secretly resentful guy

Anything beyond this area he cannot really handle. This is especially true for silent and brooding or emotionally traumatized roles. Because he cannot process this type of strong emotions, he then basically shuts down as an actor which looks like a “dead person” walking.

He is the walking dead for most of the middle parts of this movie.

As a result, it is extremely noticeable when the other characters in the movie do not notice him looking like he had a nervous breakdown and went on alcoholic bender at the same time.    

This is extremely tedious to watch!
However, there is not much else on screen for like an hour.

Now we finally come to the casting of Park Seo-Joon /박서준.

What can I say about this primarily Korean drama actor…
Stay is Korean dramas..?

Park Seo-Joon is one of those cute guy actors that seem to dominate the Korean drama world. Even among that crowd, he is too “cute” to be taken seriously as a leading man. This is not saying that he is terrible at what he does and he is not terrible in this movie considering what he is given.

The problem is that he sticks out like a sore thumb among the older mature adults that populate this movie. It is like seeing a baby in diapers in biker bar. Thus, you keep asking yourself “why is he in this crime thriller surrounded by serious cops?”

Why is thus Korean melodramatic actor in my movie?

In many ways, Park Seo-Joon /박서준 represents the typical Korean melodrama and sentimental elements shoved into this movie that comes into conflict with the rest of the movie.

Going Cheap on the Sound!
One of the blatant indicators that there are problems behind the scenes with a Korean movie is the quality of the Sound mix. Whether they do not care or had just ran out of money, poorly made Korean movies tend have noticeably terrible sound mixing.

In the case of “The Chronicles of Evil”, many of the dialogue tracks are not integrated well with the other sound tracks of the movie. In addition, these dialogue tracks do not seemed to have been properly normalized leading to vibrations in the track.

That’s bad!

Also, “The Chronicles of Evil” (2015) is the third or fourth Korean movie in the last year that has a 80s Synthesizer music heavy soundtrack.

Who is trying to bring that back?
And why?

It is not even good synthesizer music if there is such a thing. It irritated me how this movie turned on this soundtrack hard to try to manipulate the audience into feeling for the dull scenes that fill this movie.

Just give it up Korean Movies.

The current fate of Thrillers in the current movie industry climate is to stay in either TV or direct to home market. “The Chronicles of Evil” (2015) puts weight on the side who says good riddance. Simply “The Chronicles of Evil” (2015) is a poorly conceived, terribly written, and adequately directed movie that can be painful to watch at times.

And just dull for the rest.

It is a 104 minute movie that feels like a 150 minute one and not in a good way.

I would not recommend watching this in theaters spending your hard earned money which is contradictory to the behaviors of the Korean movie goer. This movie is doing good business in its first week although critical response and word of mouth is not good.  

What I have to put up to pretend that I am a movie critic…
I pay for the tickets!
I invest my time!
I suffer through a bad movie.
I go home and think about how bad that movie was.
Then I painfully type down on my laptop for you folks.

I give this movie a C- grade.

Score: D+ or 3/10

This was Prof. AKIA and this was my lecture about a new Korean movie “The Chronicles of Evil” (2015).Thanks for visiting my blog. Share, tweet, and spread the word!
Thanks for reading this article. Please comment below and you can do it as a guest.

Click here to subscribe to my blog and get the most update content here! [link]

Also, it would be appreciated if you donate what you can towards the site. Thank.

Love Clinic 연애의 맛(2015)  Review

Coin Locker Girl / Chinatown 차이나타운 (2015) Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Review

Revivre 화장 (2015) Review

Twenty (2015)  Review

The Deal (2015)

Socialphobia (2015)

Created by AKIA Talking

The pictures and video used in this review are done for criticism purposes and are the properties of those copyright holders. This review is mine.
Copyright@AKIA Talking 


Post a Comment