Golden Slumber film review: Gang Dong-won goes on the run in manhunt thriller
A delivery man who is a local hero is framed for a presidential assassination in this slick South Korean political thriller that could be a little more entertaining
Joining the increasingly cluttered ranks of politically fuelled thrillers from South Korean cinema is Golden Slumber, a new adaptation of the Japanese novel by Kotaro Isaka. In it, Gang Dong-won ( 1987 , Master ) plays an unassuming delivery man who becomes the target of a nationwide manhunt, when he is framed for the assassination of the newly elected prime minister.
Named after Golden Slumbers, credited as one of The Beatles ’ final songs, it taps into a similar “end-of-an-era” sense of nostalgia. Gun-woo (Gang) is set-up by a former classmate (Yoon Kye-sang, The Outlaws ) and the frontman of his high school band. When he becomes public enemy number one, forced on the run thanks to a frenzied media circus, Gun-woo turns to the rest of his estranged bandmates for support.
Golden Slumber was previously brought to the screen in 2010 by Yoshihiro Nakamura and proved a high point in the director’s career. While this new Korean version remains close to the source material, it largely disregards Nakamura’s playful amusement at his protagonist’s fate.
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Instead, director Noh Dong-seok hones in on the media’s persecution and the public’s willingness to condemn a man, who had recently been hailed a neighbourhood hero after thwarting a celebrity mugging. There was a sense of fun about the Japanese film that is lacking here.
As a straight-up conspiracy thriller, Golden Slumber is best described as slickly and efficiently executed, rather than genuinely entertaining. Still, Lee Hi and Kang Seung-yoon’s new rendition of the title track is an unexpected slice of cruelty nobody deserved.
Golden Slumber opens on March 22
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