Film review: Veteran is a South Korean thriller with swagger
Hwang Jung-min and Yoo Ah-in face off in sharp-witted crime thriller
A renegade cop takes on the spoilt heir of a family-run conglomerate in Ryoo Seung-wan’s tightly-paced and sharp-witted crime thriller Veteran. Hwang Jung-min and Yoo Ah-in lead an impressive ensemble of familiar faces, while the themes of endemic corruption and cronyism in Korean big business strike a poignant chord.
When the apparent suicide of a truck driver is traced back to the upper echelons of umbrella corporation Sunjin Group, Detective Seo Do-cheol (Hwang) suspects foul play and soon discovers that the company’s young heir, Jo Tae-oh (Yoo), is a vile sadist who abuses his power and influence for his own personal, twisted amusement.
While, on the surface, Veteran may resemble dozens of other recent South Korean thrillers, overflowing as it is with testosterone, misogyny and casual violence, Ryoo imbues his film with a style and swagger all its own.
Teaming back up with his leading man from 2010’s The Unjust, the writer-director again focuses on high-level corruption in Korean society, though this time he puts a young – and eminently punchable – face to it.
Yoo does a fantastic job of making Tae-oh a loathsome yet legitimately intimidating adversary for Hwang’s charismatic whirling dervish of a performance. The film maintains a breakneck pace, both sides must sidestep opposition from their superiors – and each other – as the action builds towards their inevitable, and predictably brutal, showdown.
Veteran also boasts a memorable debut from Korea’s Next Top Model host Jang Yoon-ju, as Seo’s feisty female colleague.
Veteran opens on October 1