The Suspect ("Yonguija")
“An explosive and engrossing thriller boasting enough set pieces to silence even 007” - Jason Bechervaise, SCREEN DAILY
Not far from Pyongyang is the training compound of an elite North Korean special-forces unit, its program so intense that only three per cent of applicants pass. Ji is one such super-soldier. But after being tossed aside by the NK brass, and losing his wife and child, Ji has defected to the South, dividing his time between chauffeuring a top executive with ties to the North, and seeking his family’s killer. When his boss is assassinated and the crime conveniently pinned on Ji, the hunter becomes the hunted, and the man tasked to track him down is Colonel Min, who has his own rough history — he and Ji have crossed paths before. With a precious piece of evidence in his possession, and no one on his side but plucky, earnest reporter Choi, Ji will have his skills and endurance put to the ultimate test as dodges the forces of South Korea’s intelligence apparatus and ruthlessly hones in on his revenge.
Smart and emotionally understated yet ferociously exciting, THE SUSPECT joins powerhouse productions like THE MAN FROM NOWHERE and THE BERLIN FILE in showing just what Korean cinema is capable of when it tackles the tough, tight political action thriller with a soul. Each of its three main protagonists carries the burden of disgrace, fortifying the fast-paced, punchy plotline that propels them headfirst into a morally murky maelstrom of secrets, lies and sudden, furious yet precise violence. THE SUSPECT marks the return to the director’s chair of Won Shin-yeon, missing in action since 2007’s SEVEN DAYS (and back with a bang!). Fantasia veterans will remember his striking effort A BLOODY ARIA from our 2007 edition. Won (a former stuntman) and his lead actor here, Gong Yoo, have fashioned a resonant hero in Ji, a man of few words who lets his body do the talking (and careful, some of what is says is gonna hurt — a lot).
Gritty yet stylish, breathtakingly exciting yet convincingly grounded, THE SUSPECT is anything but the usual fare. Get your ticket, grab your seat — and hold on tight because you’re in for a hell of a ride!
— Rupert Bottenberg