Review on <Insider Men>

Written on Nov 25th, 2015.

Today “Insider” or as its official English title “Insider Men” has reached 2 million audience in the shortest period among Korea’s R-rated movies. The combination of the three main casts Lee Byung-hun, Cho Seungwoo and Baek Yoonsik is a safe choice for Korean movie-goers pondering upon harshly criticized Hollywood blockbuster (“007 Spectre”) and exorcist film with an afterglow of the actor Kang Dongwon (“The Priests”). It was raining Tuesday night after work when I entered the theater to realize the theater space was huge which can easily accommodate around 100 people. Seats were not full, but they were quite occupied. The audience were mostly 20–30’s like myself.

The story unfolds with graphic description of a huge corporate ploy, strong ties between corrupted politicians, press and conglomerates. Cho Seungwoo plays a prosecutor standing for justice who teams up with a betrayed gang Lee Byung-hun dreaming of a revenge. Baek is an op-ed columnist from major newspaper and secret consultant for Mirae Motors owner Oh Taeho, one of the largest chaebols in Korea. Behind illegally funded campaign for Jang Pilwoo (“Lee Kyung-hyung”), stands Baek, Oh and Ahn Sang-gu (“Lee Byung-hun”) who was a mere chess horse for the dirty work. Each cast precisely resemble the characters. Personally, I thought the right-arm man of Mirae Motors had the most lifeless face in the world.

Beyond casts, the director devised the plot carefully, paying attention to details. Born and raised in Seoul, I am not very used to hearing hard-core dialects and was wondering why both casts’ background were outside Seoul. Apparently, Cho and Lee each represented Kyung-sang and Jeo-lla province — and this soon reminded me of the age-old regionalism between the two. Throughout the modern history of Korea, majority in the power — be it politics or courthouse — were from Kyung-sang who criticize Jeo-lla for being ignorant, uneducated and violent. However, the most appalling point in the movie lays in the vivid portrayal of true events that happened in past, existing regimes. For instance, numerous politicians including vice-minister candidate had to step down for a sex scandal in mansion — the scene is truly disgusting and abominating so much that I wanted to throw up inside. Normally movies tend to expand, extend the reality and take it into a larger scale. It is sad that this movie did not feel like an exaggeration. It felt more like a visual depiction and rerun by actors of a true story. In fact, there might be more. The ending is glorious ; the evil is punished and the good survives. But we all know that this is self-consolation because in reality, truth hurts even more.

Don’t miss out the famous line by Lee. 
Shall we go to Mojito and drink Maldives someday?