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A Company Man ("Hoi-sa-won")

Canadian Premiere
  • South Korea
  • 2012
  • 98 mins
  • DCP
  • Korean
  • English (subtitles)

“A tightly scripted, fast paced mix of action, revenge, and betrayal” - J. Hurtado, TWITCHFILM

“Genuinely exciting and thrillingly violent” - James Mudge, BEYOND HOLLYWOOD

“Do you like your job?” Directed at the film’s protagonist, this question is the first line uttered in this Korean action-thriller. Ji Hyeong-do is at a professional crossroads. The metal import company that currently employs him seems rather ordinary on the surface: meetings, paperwork to fill out, special dinners to celebrate promotions… pretty routine stuff. Behind this innocent facade, however, lies a startling secret: all employees are in fact professional hitmen. Meticulous, precise, discretely reserved and not one to ask questions, Ji is seen as a model employee by the company’s president. His entire life capsizes the day his conscience stops him from eliminating a boy at a mission’s end. Overwhelmed with guilt-ridden doubt, the assassin introduces himself to the family of his intended victim and quickly gets attached to the young boy. When Ji’s employers discover that their protégé has been lying to them, he quickly realizes that in this business, handing in one’s resignation is more than frowned upon….

To say that South Koreans have become masters at producing thrillers would be an understatement. From THE CHASER to THE UNJUST, it is a genre on which several of the most renowned directors, such as Kim Jee-woon (I SAW THE DEVIL) and Park Chan-wook (OLDBOY), have left their mark. Lim Sang-yoon, a newcomer whose debut feature will surely have us hearing more of him in the future, can now be added to that list. Mindful of the genre’s traditional conventions, A COMPANY MAN succeeds on all fronts. Lim infuses his film with the right dose of humour to leaven the atmosphere of an otherwise classical screenplay. The filmmaker initially invites us to discover the sympathetic and charismatic Ji (superbly portrayed by So Ji-sub), asking us to share his aspirations for a simpler, better structured life. The second act is conversely much more violent and fast-paced, leaving the audience very little room to breathe. A COMPANY MAN’s success comes in no small part due to this action crescendo culminating in an unforgettable shootout smack in the middle of the corporate head office. Led by a fiendishly efficient cast and graced by sensational cinematography, A COMPANY MAN doesn’t reinvent the genre but deftly achieves what it set out to do: deliver a beefed-up, meticulously well-crafted, and jubilant piece of entertainment that efficiently blows boredom away!

— Michel Garceau