THE SUSPECT – Blu-ray review

“The Suspect” stars Yoo Gong as Ji Dong-cheol an quiet yet deadly agent from North Korea who has defected to South Korea. When we meet Ji he is reeling from the murder of his wife and daughter and looking for answers. He is quickly set up as a suspect in the assassination of a powerful chairman.  He knew the chairman and is on the premises when during his death.  Ji is given some top secret information before the chairman dies. From this point on he must outrun enemies from all sides in hopes to find answers and his daughter that may or may not be dead.  A detective with a past connected to Ji is on a vengeance fueled hunt that will stop at nothing to find him.

This is a thriller wrapped around several large action set-pieces much like the Bourne series.  The story is coherent and makes sense in the grand scheme.  It may not look that way halfway through but it does come together nicely. The hand to hand combat scenes are brutal. Broken limbs are peppered throughout coupled with some fairly bloody moments. There is one scene of bone-twisting athleticism by Yoo Gong that seems impossible but it happens with nary a cut in the action.  Yoo is believable as the man on the run. His acting is limited here as he is a rather emotionless character except an angry snarl here and there. Hee-soon Park as Min Se-hoon, the man tasked with the job of finding Ji, chews through his scenery with a too-cool-for-school fervor. He smokes and smirks his was through evidence and clues in hopes to solving the mystery and bring his foe to justice.  He is accompanied by his old friend and inside man Jae-yun Jo who provides levity as a small yet needed bit of comic relief.  At the center of all of this is Kim Seok-ho (Seong-ha Jo) as the NIS director in charge of it all.

As stated earlier, the style of the filmed can be likened to the Bourne series. The pace is slick and the cinematography filled with shaky cam and quick zooms. Director Shin-yeon Won has less than a handful of full length features under his belt yet his work here is handled like a veteran. The feature is peppered with subtle lines of dialogue and cutaways to people’s reactions to situations which help immerse the viewer into the realism of the world.  There’s a nice scene where Ji runs into some American CIA operatives and instead of just them being shallow opponents they drop lines like “I’ve missed two Christmases with my family looking for you.” It helps give even the most minor character some weight. Won also proves himself adept at directing large action sequences, one involving a skydiving scene rivaling anything seen in “Point Break” and a harrowing cliff side scene with some formidable stunt work.  Also, there are two action scenes with plenty of vehicular carnage dispatched.  The story leaps from country to country giving it a broad, international feel.  Won uses many aerial establishing shots during action sequences and before and after. The cinematography is professional as it gets.  If there is one chink in the armor of the film is that it can sometimes have glaring continuity errors.  During the car chase scenes the damage incurred during varies quite dramatically. Facial wounds also change around quite a bit.  Lastly, at 2 hours and 15 minutes it feels a bit padded.  Some tighter editing could’ve brought it down closer to 2 hours, quickening the pace and still keeping the emotional punch.

Video:
Well Go USA delivers “The Suspect” with a 2.39:1 framed 1080p transfer with wonderful results. Won does go for a desaturated, almost steely look here which lends towards the film’s serious nature.  Flashbacks are visually separated by being even more desaturated and flashy.  Clarity and fine detail are on par with what you expect the newest hi-def images should be. The blood effects in particular come off as nauseatingly clear.  Grain does appear in some of the darker scenes.

Audio:
The Korean DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track is lively and deep.  The many gunshots fired pop all around you with an eerie precision. There are a variety of set pieces each with varying levels of action.  From the windblown skydive sequence to the two car chases to the gunshots in the climactic scene at the end, all channels are utilized aggressively and realistically.  LFE stays at bay only livening up during these scenes which gives them extra weight. There is no English language track.  Also of note, sometimes there are subtitles at the top and bottom of the screen when multiple people are speaking at the same time, which oddly works.

Extras:
The only extras are for the film itself and a variety of other Well Go USA action titles.

Bottom Line:
Don’t let the generic tile fool you, “The Suspect” may use many been-there-done-that action themes but they are coherently strung together to make an engaging action picture. Yes, it feels a tad drawn out especially in the final third however it’s a small criticism compared to how much more good than bad there is. Recommended for action aficionados of all kinds, especially those jones’n for a new Bourne Film.

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