The Berlin File


Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan this contemporary Asain thriller starts off at full throttle and rarely loses its pace or momentum throughout. It is far from a simply followed plot though and admittedly I found it required a lot of attention and still came across as quite convoluted, although this may have been intentional to keep the audience on their toes. However as there is so much perfectly choreographed action and so little dialogue it is difficult to keep track of who is who never mind what is actually going on so by the end of the film I was exhausted in trying to keep up and meanwhile the characters had managed to elicit little sympathy so it was hard to care what became of them.

 Opening with an illegal international arms deal which goes wrong the central protagonist a North Korean spy, Pyo Jong-seong (Ha Jung-woo), then finds himself in a world of double agents and red herrings where even his wife is suspected of betraying him. What follows is an intricate web of deceitful lies and mistrust involving the Middle East, Russia and most significantly South Korea whilst the drama unfolds in Berlin thus giving the whole thing a totally international feel with everyone pursuing a different agenda. The relationship between Pyo and his wife although a loveless affair is complicated further by the fact she informs him she is pregnant and despite her disloyalty in other matters he is definitely the father. They then embark on their escape only to encounter a series of different factions who want to bring them down.

  As stated before this is essentially an action movie so the plot and character depth always come second to this but unfortunately this is the films main drawback. Whilst there is no more action than your typical James Bond movie-or even a Die Hard- but whilst the Bond franchise has at least twenty films behind it where some character traits have been established this films characters all left me totally unmoved. By the end of the film it was still unclear exactly what was going on and I was paying particularly close attention.

 Despite this the action sequences were expertly choreographed and brilliantly executed therefore anyone who loves an action movie will not be disappointed. I however wish there had been more of a structured and clear story to hang these amazing sequences onto.

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