The Shameless /무뢰한 (2015) Korean Movie Review

A Art house noir movie starring the wonderful #JeonDoYeon

The Shameless /무뢰한 (2015) Korean Movie Review

 Hardboiled" and "Melodrama” should not be put together!




Keyword: #무뢰한 #JeonDoYeon #KimNamGil #ParkSungWoong #KwakDoWon #TheShameless



Hello. This is Prof. AKIA here to give a lecture on a new Korean movie. For those who are new, I talk about hot new Korean movie releases from Korea. Today’s topic is the Jeon Do-Yeon /전도연and Kim Nam-Gil /김남길starring  art-house crime movie vehicle The Shameless(2015). In Korean, the title is “무뢰한(2015) which can be roughly translated as “Rude scoundrel” or “Roughian”

Warning!
Do not expect any normal action crime movie stuff here.
This is more of an Arthouse movie!



Introduction
The tagline for this movie is that it is a “Hardboiled Melodrama”.  Think about that term…



On one side, you have “Hardboiled” which is basically referring to “Hardboiled noir” genre. On the other hand, you have “Melodrama” which in Korean refers to “romantic” Melodrama. 

Do you think that these two concepts go well together?

I know that there are some inherent melodramatic elements in “Hardboiled noir” that are leftover from the “Romantic” crime noir genre. However, the genre is more about the exploration of masculinity, of the isolation of urban life, of the corruption of crime, end etc. In concept, these elements do not really seem to go well with “romantic” Melodrama dramas even the “tragic” ones.

By combining the two, you risk that both would get muddled together!

And this is what happened… somewhat… It is rather complicated.


A huge problem with “The Shameless” (2015) is that “masculine” Hardboiled part of the movie, basically anything with the male lead, is just treated as surface level lip service to the genre. 



At the same time, the best part of the movie is the “feminine” Melodrama which is drenched in the “Hardboiled” spill over.  

Odd isn’t it?
Usually it is the opposite.

It is a shame that there is too much of the former. Oh and also there is Jeon Do-Yeon /전도연.

You cannot forget about her.
She is one of those actresses that can make just sitting around look interesting.


The plot
The plot of “The Shameless” (2015) is the barebones basic plot one can imagine for a cop noir movie. You have your run of the mill “corrupt” cop but someone who does not really know how to enjoy being a bad apple in a barrel of bad apples.


If you’re a bad guy, you should at least have fun!



You have your standard mid-level gangster who ends committing murder and is on the run. He leaves behind an “over the hill” gangster moll girlfriend that works in the nightlife entertainment industry.

Where do you think the plot will go from here?



The cop goes undercover to spy on the girlfriend of course. What you may not expect is that there is no real stakes to the movie. The world would not end if the criminal is not captured. For the cop, it is just job that he does not really care about anyway. Even the criminal treats it as just something that happens in his line of work.


What is it about?
The Shameless (2015) has barely has enough plot to fill a 45 minute episode of a TV cop show. Other than what I described above, not much happens that impact the overall plot.

So how does the movie fill in the rest of its 118 minute run time?

For most of the movie, we just follow the two lead characters on their mundane days filled with nothing but hopelessness. While on the case, the cop is just bored as it is just another criminal case who he is investigating. He does not enjoy his work or even get the satisfaction from the fact that he is a corrupt cop.

It is just another case.


For the moll girlfriend, this is just another wrong turn in her life filled with bad choices mostly related to her taste in bad men. There is no hope that, even if the two somehow get through this, they would end up with even their necks intact in the long run. In fact, her boyfriend getting caught and going to jail for 20 years may be the better outcome for her.

So, it is all sunshine and sparkles.


“The Shameless” (2015) could be said to be more of a mood piece about being trapped in a self-imposed prison of hopelessness and despair. So, what happens when we have these two people meet with one pretending to be someone he is not?

Do they learn how to hope?
This is not that kind of movie!

“Mostly lackluster writing” would be the correct answer.




The issues
“The Shameless” (2015) is a movie that adds a pin on the “We should not let directors write their own scripts” column.  The writer/ director Oh Seung-Uk / 오승욱 basically made a movie with a first draft script at best. We get the general direction and themes that the story he wants to get to but nothing is really properly developed or fleshed out yet.

This is very evident in the first act where the “Hardboiled” elements are just for show and the character of the “Cop” played by Kim Nam-Gil is not fully developed. Even the basic mechanics of the “noir” genre is not clearly constructed as it feels more like a “Private eye” movie than a “Cop” movie. The two are actually pretty different.

In addition, the plot only moves forward because the cop is actually pretty bad at his job and lazy. The criminal would have been captured in the first 20 minutes if he paid attention and also did not “lone wolf” it.

This is where the  “Private eye” thing comes into play.



And what is worse is that the script does not acknowledge this fact.

Is this a character trait?
Is it related to the themes of the movie?

Nothing is clearly established. Even “mood” movies need to be on point on these basics.  This is just poor writing. The second and third acts are no better in this regard. The fact that I liked the second act the most actually has nothing to do with the writing.

Didn’t I mention I liked the 2nd act?
Well …
“like” maybe too strong a word.


Characters and actors
For the first act, the movie has the “Cop” played by Kim Nam-Gil putting barely an effort into catching the criminal.

That is the whole first act!
Just him!


What is worse is that the character on screen is not interesting at all. Not only is the character motivations all muddled up, but the actor playing him is totally miscast. Kim Nam-Gil is a romantic actor at his core and his “Hardboiled” acting simply comes off as irritated and bored at the same time.


The second act is where the cop goes undercover and this means that we finally see a lot of Jeon Do-Yeon /전도연 which is always a treat. Her character here is not well developed like the cop but she at least has a specific character trait. It is that she was the nice girl with terrible taste in men and now she is the tired older woman still with terrible taste.

The movie actually takes time to spells this out!

Jeon Do-Yeon /전도연 really milks this trait for all its worth and makes the character interesting and almost endearing at some points. Her character is a tired tragic romantic figure that actually is better for an actor like Kim Nam-Gil to work off of.


Even with Jeon Do-Yeon, I cannot say that she is perfectly cast as the character has some former- femme fatale elements that Jeon Do-Yeon never pulled off.



Conclusion
“The Shameless /무뢰한” (2015) is not a movie that has many traits that I can use to recommend it to general audiences. It is an art-house movie. This would automatically loose people because it is boring.

And it would have been boring even if it was well made.

However, there is nothing particularly there to label as “Art”. Trying to pretend to be art-like to hide the fact that nothing is developed yet does not count. Even the art direction and cinematography are uninspired although serviceable.


The only real draw of the movie is the performance of Jeon Do-Yeon /전도연 as she is always reliable.  And, in this movie, she has the magical vagina that alters a character’s personally suddenly when she lets him touch it.

Ha Ha Ha!
Bad Writing.
However, is that enough?

“The Shameless /무뢰한” (2015)  is the kind of movie that I want to edit down into a good 70 minute starting with the second act. The protagonist should have been  Jeon Do-Yeon’s character and not the cop as there is nothing to the character or the performance. I would give “The Shameless /무뢰한” (2015)  a C-.

Score: C- or 3.75/10


Thanks you for visiting my lecture of “The Shameless /무뢰한” (2015) , a new Korea movie.

Wish Jeon Do-Yeon would get better projects to work with!


Feel free to leave comments and share this lecture to the world. Class dismiss and enjoy the sun.  


This was Prof. AKIA of Kmovie talk.


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Past Reviews. Click on the pictures

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Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Review


Revivre 화장 (2015) Review

Twenty (2015)  Review

The Deal (2015)

Socialphobia (2015)

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.
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