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
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.
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).
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.
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.
Seoul Vibe will start streaming on Netflix on August 26.