Blind (Korean Movie 2011) Blind (Korean Movie 2011) - (English) TYPE5

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Film Date :   August 11, 2011
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Blind (Korean Movie 2011)
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Blind (블라인드;  Beulraindeu) is a 2011 South Korean crime thriller film directed by Ahn Sang-Hoon and starring Kim Ha-neul and Yoo Seung-ho in the lead roles. Kim received Best Actress honors at the 48th Grand Bell Awards and the 32nd Blue Dragon Film Awards for her performance.

The screenplay for Blind won the "Hit By Pitch" project fair held by the Korean Movie Producers Guild in 2009.

Pilot

A missing person case involving a female university student and the victim in a hit and run case appears to be related. Detectives look for a witness.

Min Soo-ah (Kim Ha-neul) used to be a promising cadet at the police academy but after a horrific car accident which killed her surrogate brother and caused her to lose her eyesight, her police career ended. Soo-ah reveals to Detective Jo (Jo Hee-bong) at the police station that on the night of the hit and run case she was picked up by a taxi cab driver. Soo-ah believes the taxi driver may be the perpetrator of the crimes. Initially, Detective Jo doesn't take Soo-ah's claims seriously because she is blind, but when Soo-ah displays her acute senses, the detective starts to believe her.

Detective Jo and Soo-ah then work together to find the taxi cab driver, but all their leads turn up empty. Then another witness comes forward, Kwon Gi-seob (Yoo Seung-ho). Gi-seob is a motorcycle delivery boy who claims to have also witnessed the hit and run incident. Gi-seob emphatically states that the car in question was not a taxi cab, but rather an imported sedan.

Meanwhile, Soo-ah finds herself being stalked by a mysterious man who turns out to be the killer, gynecologist Myung-jin (Yang Young-jo). Soo-ah, while in the car with him, remembered that he had a strong scent, he had a watch on his right hand, and he gave her an iced coffee drink in a glass can. While in the car with him, they hit a bump while in an argument. The body of the dead university student rolls out of the trunk and Myung-jin gets out to examine it. When Soo-ah goes out as well to inspect the damage done, he claims that he hit a dog, but she reasons with him, starting another fight. He leaves her in the rain when another car comes. The reason why she was in the car with him is because she needed a ride back from visiting the orphanage she used to grow up in.

One night when Gi-seob is walking home alone, he is followed by Myung-jin. Gi-seob at first runs away, but is snuck up on and hit by a brick. An ambulance comes and Detective Jo and Soo-ah drive to the scene. Gi-seob gets annoyed by Soo-ah's constant nagging, and on the day of his release, storms out in anger. When he reaches the nearly-empty subway station, he sees Soo-ah on the other side and then sees her ride the subway followed by the killer. He calls her on her phone and tells her urgently that the killer is in front of her. As he runs to catch up with her, she goes onFaceTime and shows him her location and surroundings. He guides her out of the subway and to safety, as well as her seeing eye dog, Seul-gi. She reaches into her handbag and sprays the killer's eyes with her pepper spray and runs off with Seul-gi. When she reaches the elevator, she thought that she'd be safe, but the killer quickly gets in and kills Seul-gi.

When Soo-ah wakes up, she asks for her seeing dog, but Kwon Gi-seob (Yoo Seung-ho) hands her the blood-stained leash. At home she gets a call from an unknown number. The caller warns her away from the case. "You can't see me, but I'm watching you." A few days later, Detective Jo finds the killer. They get into a violent fight, in which the detective dies and the killer drives off. Meanwhile, Gi-seob and Soo-ah visit the orphanage again when they're asked to watch over it while the school director takes the children out. The killer enters the living room and lights a cigarette and listens to some music. Soo-ah, annoyed by the music, goes downstairs to turn it off. She reprimands Gi-seob for playing it, but smells the cigarette smoke. Gi-seob goes upstairs and fights the killer while Soo-ah runs away, reaching the car and breaking its windows with the motion sensor. The killer attacks her but she hits him on the head, making him fall unconscious. The police find Detective Jo's body and other evidence implicating Myung-jin as the killer and he is put in jail. Soo-ah is re-admitted to the police academy and graduates, while Gi-seob also enrolls in the police academy.

Review

BUCHEON, South Korea — Blind, inspired by Terence Young's 1967 thriller Wait Until Dark,transposes the situation of a blind British woman terrorized by three criminals to present day Korea where a sight-impaired former policewoman engages in a battle of wits with a serial killer. Ahn Sang-hoon directs with a distinguishing eye for stylish visuals and lighting contrasts to conjure up a chilling atmosphere. The screenplay, which Ahn co-wrote with Choi Min-suk and Andy Yoon offers dense plotting that alternates between cerebral riddle-solving and vigorous outbursts of action.

Regrettably, the tightly sprung suspense comes loose in the last leg, which sacrifices common sense for the sick brutality and misogyny that plague many Korean genre films.

Emphasizing Blind's ties with the 1967 classic, which earned leading lady Audrey Hepburn an Oscar nomination, may raise its visibility slightly in overseas markets, though exposure would probably still be confined to ancillary markets.

Ahn demonstrates a knack for directing road action with the heart-stopping prologue. Police trainee Min Soo-ah (Kim Ha-neul) loses her sight in a highway accident and is unable to prevent the van she is driving from tipping over the bridge with her brother Dong-hyun inside. Three years later, despite the companionship of trusty guide dog Seul-ki (an adorable source of comic relief), guilt-ridden Soo-ah is barely able to stand on her feet.

One gloomy, rainy night, she travels out of town to visit the orphanage where she and Dong-hyun grew up. She waits for a call taxi to take her home, but doesn't realize that she is picked up by a private car driven by a psychopath (Yang Young-jo) who kidnaps young women to torture them to death. She narrowly escapes his clutches when he accidentally runs over a female pedestrian. When Soo-ah goes to alert the police, they take a blind person's words lightly.

Detective Cho (Cho Hee-bong) takes on the case half-heartedly. It's only when he realizes this may be linked to a series of missing women that he rolls up his sleeves to find the suspect. A young biker, Gi-sub (Yoo Seung-ho), reports seeing a plush foreign car at the crime scene, but Soo-ah is so convinced her abductor is a taxi driver that she dismisses him. By now, the psychopath has caught up with them and begins to stalk and hunt down his witnesses.

While Wait Until Dark closes in on the heroine's apartment as the main location, the action in Blind is spread out all over the city and suburbs. Yet the film's steely gray-black color scheme, cold, sheer lighting and numerous scenes of pelting rain combine in a visually coherent mis-en-scene that is uniquely urban in its callous, predatory nature. Projecting a blind person's perspective, the highway becomes a menacing stage where unpredictable perils lurk. Another scene of superb tension is set in the subway, where Gi-sub spots the psychopath in the same compartment as Soo-ah, and navigates her out of danger with her iPhone. Cinematographer Son Won-ho's unpredictable camera angles make full use of the spatial contrasts of the underground maze and the skewed images seen through an iPhone to manipulate what the audience can and what Soo-ah cannot see.

It's a smart decision on the filmmaker's part not to model the female protagonist on the original persona. Hepburn's blend of frail petal beauty and inviolate poise would have been a hard act to follow. Bright, independent and physically fit, Soo-ah's image is more in line with this contemporary version. The process in which she pieces together a profile of her nemesis through her knowledge in criminology and her heightened non-visual instincts adds a mentally satisfying dimension to the film. Kim Ha-neul conveys not only her physical toughness, but inner strength as well as a headstrong streak.

The film might have gained greater depth had the filmmakers developed the heroine’s pride, which causes her to refuse help, and a tendency to jump to conclusions into a theme about blindness in the metaphorical sense.

As the psychopath, Yang oozes malice from his urbane exterior. It's a shame that a flawed characterization prevents him from taking his performance into more complex dimensions. For as the film progresses, he is increasingly dehumanized and becomes as strong and indestructible as the Terminator. The final segment, set in the orphanage stretches credibility as Soo-ah and the biker are left stranded under utterly contrived circumstances. The climactic hide-and-seek in the dark also delivers less suspense than anticipated as it is packed with over-the-top pyrotechnics and gory violence more suitable to a slasher film than a sophisticated thriller.

 

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