The Berlin File (2013)
The Berlin File is a South Korean spy thriller, directed and written by Seung-wan Ryoo, established director in Korean industry, know for many movies, and particularly for Crying Fist and City of Violence, both found on this site. This movie is most successful project of Seung-wan Ryoo so far, and box office record holder for the genre in South Korea.
The plot is quite complex and hard to summarize, but that wouldn't be international espionage thriller if it would be that simple.
Berlin, Germany. All starts with black market weapon deal staked out by old timer South Korean intelligence agent Jung Jin So (Suk-kyu Han) and his team but before they can make their move, things go wrong. After his escape from this mess North Korean operative Pyo Jong Sung (Jung-woo Ha) who back home is considered a national hero, understands that he's been set up and betrayed, he and his wife (Gianna Jun) who works in North's embassy as translator are in center of internal power struggle in Pyongyang. CIA, Russian arms dealers, North and South's spy's, Mossad, Arab terrorist organizations, all make their own plays and appearances in this entangled spider web.
The movie is almost entirely filmed in Europe, in many locations to provide authenticity for what's happening on the screen.
The film is quite long, around two hours, but it balances it's pace very well. Slow dialogues and scenes that set up mood of seriousness and importance of character actions, followed by hard hitting, high octane stylish action scenes, be it hand to hand, or heavy weaponry. Director himself has stated that he wanted it to resemble popular western spy thriller Borne Identity.
It's notable that this is another collaboration of director Seung-wan Ryoo and his younger brother Seung-beom Ryu who plays ruthless "problem solver", hopeful more will follow.
Brilliant cast of some of the best Korean actors, beautiful action scenes, solid cinematography, full of intrigue. A great entry for spy genre.
DVD from Amazon