Not an easy movie to watch, the plot sometimes meanders and feels as though it is heading towards a brick wall. However the intense climate to the movie will leave many viewers walking away head bowed and slightly traumatised by its conclusion. The movie 'The Scarlet Letter', is one of the many Korean movies that is finding an audience in the west. With Hollywood churning out clone after clone of various genre movies, this Asian invasion could not have come at a better time. It is comforting to know that somewhere creative and challenging cinema is still being produced and distributed. The story of 'The Scarlet Letter' involves a cop, Ki-Hoon, who whilst investigating a murder re-ignites a fling with his lover. The actual case that he is solving serves more as a backdrop with the main story focusing on the marital paradigmn between the protagonist, his wife and the lover. The idea of a hardworking cop being torn between his devotions to the one he loves and duty may not seem like the most original premise. Many a cop movie/series has been devoted to such scenarios, movies like Micheal Mann's 'Heat' or 'Leathal Weapon' spring to mind. Yet what raises this movie above the average cop thriller is the frightening way Asian cinema is able to change the mood of a movie from one frame to another. This is now a hall mark of Asian cinema and is rooted in a tradition whereby genres such as comedy, horror, romance and thrillers can be mixed all together in one movie, take Japanese (Kitano) or Hong Kong (John Woo) cinema as examples. For the last fifteen years Asian cinema has been producing genre defying movies. Korea has now entered into the fray and are producing movies where suspense, romance and terror can be weaved into a narrative and still retain a sense of realism. This is what Hollywood is failing to achieve, with too many Hollywood movies reliant on staple genres and archetype heroes. After a brief respite Asia is once again paving a way for modern cinema to develop and surprisingly Korea seems to be the next port of call for the attention of the movie loving west. A difficult movie to watch, but one that is worthy of your attention.
A detective, his 3 girls & a murder case. Complex emotional relationships and human nature's darker sides are explored in this captivating suspense drama about a cop whose lust for love threatens to get in the way of his professional life.
August 26, 2020