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Yoo Ah-in as Park Dong-wook in a still from Seoul Vibe, a 1980s-set action comedy thriller in the style of the Fast and Furious films. Photo: Song Kyungsub/Netflix

ReviewNetflix movie review: Seoul Vibe – in 1980s-set action comedy that tries to emulate the style of Fast and Furious films, Yoo Ah-in leads smuggling gang

  • Moon Hyun-sung’s Seoul Vibe is an action-packed comedy thriller fuelled by ’80s nostalgia and packed with car chases and illegal street races
  • While it doesn’t come close to achieving the adrenaline-soaked spectacle of the Fast and Furious films, it revels in its ’80s setting and has a great soundtrack

3/5 stars

In the run-up to the 1988 Summer Olympics, South Korea was in the midst of a period of political and economic renewal. A newly installed democratic government had replaced a military leadership, while the marketplace was suddenly flooded with desirable Western brands of everything from fast food to fashion.

This is the setting for Moon Hyun-sung’s Seoul Vibe, an action-packed comedy thriller that is fuelled by ’80s nostalgia, and all too eager to emulate the style and success of the Fast and Furious franchise.

Yoo Ah-in stars as Dong-wook, leader of a gang of opportunistic smugglers who are caught on their way back from a deal in the Middle East and forced into collaborating with Prosecutor Ahn (Oh Jung-se).

If they help him trace and secure a slush fund of billions of dollars, hoarded by the previous administration, he will provide them with safe passage to the United States.

To do so, however, Dong-wook, his little sister Yoon-hee (Park Ju-hyun), Joon-gi (Ong Seong-wu), Bok-nam (Lee Kyoo-hyung), and Woo-sam (Go Kyung-pyo) will have to infiltrate a criminal organisation fronted by former military stooge Director Lee (Kim Sung-kyun) and the wily queen of loan sharks, President Kang (Moon So-ri).

Yoo Ah-in (left) as Dong-wook and Moon So-ri as President Kang in a still from Seoul Vibe. Photo: Song Kyungsub/Netflix

As an action movie, Seoul Vibe is admittedly rather pedestrian. Its car chases, illegal street races and climactic aerial set pieces never come close to achieving the adrenaline-soaked spectacle of the films it holds so dear.


The plot also proves too convoluted, as it attempts to navigate an underworld of nefarious political subterfuge from the perspective of a band of largely oblivious small-timers.

Where Seoul Vibe scores is in its period setting. Woo-sam moonlights as a DJ, prone to compiling mix tapes for Dong-wook to play in his car. His fondness for US hip-hop and local Korean pop ballads provides the film with an endlessly kinetic soundtrack.

(Front, from left) Kim Sung-kyun as Director Lee, Park Ju-hyun as Yoon-hee and Lee Kyoo-hyung as Bok-nam in a still from Seoul Vibe. Photo: Song Kyungsub/Netflix
Product placement is rife throughout, but earns its place as characters understandably fawn over the chance to finally enjoy McDonald’s and Coca-Cola for the first time, and slide behind the wheel of a Mercedes or into a pair of brand new Nike Air Jordans.

Dong-wook and his cohorts make for a likeable bunch of opportunistic anti-heroes, while Moon is an absolute hoot as their fearsome nemesis – just don’t call her ajumma (middle-aged woman).

While it may not find top gear as an action movie, ’80s kids should find Seoul Vibe warrants a few spins round the block.

(From left) Go Kyung-pyo as Woo-sam, Lee Kyoo-hyung as Bok-nam, Park Ju-hyun as Yoon-hee, Ong Seong-wu as Joon-gi, and Yoo Ah-in as Dong-wook in a still from Seoul Vibe. Photo: Song Kyungsub/Netflix

Seoul Vibe will start streaming on Netflix on August 26.

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