Quick InfoCountry: Korea
What I Liked::Good characters
What I Disliked::Lack of focus, low energy
“Jail Breaker is not a bad movie but its neither a success in my book”
Story: Jae-Pil and Mu-suk have both been in prison for a few years now. During these years, both prisoners have been exemplary inmates. Mu-suk has a lot of respect from the other prisoners and Jae-Pil has always been nice and respectful to the guards and chief, which gave him a bad reputation among other prisoners.
The next special amnesty day, the Independence Day Special Pardons, is coming soon and both would really like to be on the list of the pardoned prisoners. But the prison chief doesn’t want to spoil the names of the lucky men before it’s time. Mu-suk and Jae-Pil decide that they have enough of this life style and they want their freedom back. The two prisoners make their escapes and swear to never return to their cells. Until they read the next mornings newspaper where they discovers that their names are on the Special Amnesty list. They now have to get back into prison as soon as possible and settle this matter with the chief but it seems that it was much more easier for them to get out of prison that to get in.
Review: Following the success of their movies Attack the Gas Station and Kick The Moon, director Kim Sang-Jin and writer Park Jung-woo teamed up again and tried to make another smash hit. Supported by a strong cast, this production had everything it needed to succeed. The movie was well received by the Korean public and ended up on the 4th place in the domestic box office of 2002.
Being a fan of both Attack the gas Station and Kick the moon, I can’t hide the fact that I had good expectations about this one. Especially after seeing the disappointing Spark The lighter, which was also written by Park,Jung-woo. But my feeling of excitement disappeared after the first half of the movie. Jail Breakers is not a bad movie, but is far from having the same effect Attack the Gas Station or Kick the Moon had on me at that time.
Jail Breakers use the exact same template as the 2 previous movies: Introduction, small situation, try to solve the problem, bigger situation, another attempt at solving the problem and so on until the finale is concluded in a big brawl involving almost every character of the movie. The concept is good, as it worked pretty well before, but I think that in this case it was forced too much and it is also starting to be a bit too repetitive. The connections between the events were too loose and the development is not solid and interesting enough to support the whole story. You just get a bunch of characters yelling at each other during one hour and half and when you realize that nothing happened so far, you have already reached the end of the movie.
At least, character wise, the movie is excellent. Both main actors are very well characterized. Cha, Seung-Won (Kick The Moon, Spark The Lighter) and Sul Kyoung-gu (Public Enemy, Oasis) are very good actors and again they both shine in their respective roles. At the beginning of the story, both character were stereotyped and nothing exceptional to talk about but during the development of the story, they both change literally and the roles become inverted, as Jae-Pil will now be the leader and Mu-suk the follower. Watching the development of these two characters is the most interesting part of the movie.
You can also probably guess by the style of the movie that there are a lot of secondary characters, in fact way too much to be able to remember or mention all of them. The most important included the ex-girl friend of Jae-Pil and her new police officer lover, the chief of the prison and a scary rebellious prisoner. All of them are pretty funny and enjoyable to watch.
Since the characters are so good, why does the flow of the movie feel so slow and boring. The biggest problems of the movie consist of the story and also with the dialogues and the jokes. Most of the dialogues are uninteresting and consist mostly of characters yelling at each other. As for the jokes, they are nice, but that’s about it, just…nice. This is a shame as I was sure that the highlight of the film would be the humor.
There is no moment in the whole movie that it makes me feels happy and satisfied, a feeling that usually happens when you are watching something that can make you forget everything around you. But that was not the case with this one, too bad because I really wanted to like it very much, but there is not that much to like about it.
I’m still very surprised about how popular the movie was in South Korea, surprised because usually I like Korean comedies and also because there’s not that much of a cultural element in this one. Even Warner Brothers bought the right of the script to make a US remake. Jail Breaker is not a bad movie but its neither a success in my book. Not something that I would recommend to everyone, I will still tell you to give a chance to this movie and check it out if you are a fan of Korean movies but don’t put your expectation too high as you might be very disappointed.
DVD [ Region 3, NTSC ] :
Another excellent packaging from Cinema Service, this movie comes with in a 2 DVD and a 3rd CD containing music made by the crew and actors of the movie. The image quality is a bit disappointing as the anamorphic transfer is blurry. The sound is a very good Korean DTS track and the English subtitles are very good quality. Take note that the menu of the DVD is in Korean, which makes it a bit hard to browse. The bonus consist of an Audio Commentary by the director, Making Film, Episodes, CG, Outtakes, Trailer, TV Spot, some more promotion, Music Video, Music Video Making, [Jail Breakers] project band CD making, Scene for singing [Pink Lipstick], Movie Talking by the director, Gallery, Staff. Plus the Bonus Music CD.
Reviewed by Janick Neveu