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Hmmmm..... What can i say about this one except that it is really bad. There are so many things that are complete wrong.
- The music is so over-powering, over-dramatic, and so repetitive, it becomes so annoying very quickly. You get drums and heavy trumpets when the hero shows up, and cellos in minor key when the villain is on screen etc... It sounds so fake and it was a major distraction for me.
- The scenario is so broken and formulaic. The hero and the bad guy must die a good 2-3 times each, just to re-appear a few minutes later, with just a few extra booboos on their faces. The story is about an ex government agent turned terrorist who takes the main subway line in Seoul and threaten to explode a massive biological weapon, risking to kill millions of Koreans in the big city. But really, he doesn't have any of that. Instead, his plan is simply to hijack a subway on a line that leads directly to a nuclear plant and crash the subway into it, causing a massive nuclear explosion to wipe out Seoul... I searched for Seoul's Subway map on the web and i think that there is indeed a line that leads to a nuclear power plant near the city.... But i doubt the terminal station is built so close to the reactor that an out-of-control train could crash into it and cause a massive nuclear explosion. I am pretty sure the city of Seoul did not do that, otherwise, someone deserves to be fired.
- Action-wise, it is so over the top that about 80mn into the movie, i really thought we were close to the end because the action as so big: it felt like a grand finale, with heads crashing on subway car windows with barely a scratch, massive explosions in tunnels, and the hero seemingly dying and all. Instead, the movie managed to pull that one action scene for close to 40 more minutes all the way to a stupid tear jerking end. The movie as a result has no rhythm because it's just constant big action, with no pause to understand the story or the characters. The action is also repetitive, adding nothing in term of novel effects or twists. You get your action on top of the subway at full speed, under the subway at full speed, swords and martial arts action between the good guy and the bad guy inside a subway car, massive explosions in tunnels that seem to have no effect on people nearby etc... What a shame.
If you have read previous reviews of mine, you know i am really fond of Korean cinema. Most Korean movies have a very high production value, great stories and characters, great performances, and end up being great movies all around. Just check out great fares such as the politico-military thriller Joint Security Area, the depressing melodrama Failan, the heart-warming My Heart and The Way Home, the riveting and tragic Address Unknown, the twisted moody scary erotic The Isle, the action-comedy My Wife Is A Gangster, the beautiful and coldly erotic La Belle, or the fantastic romantic comedy My Sassy Girl. I could go on for a lot more. If you pick any of those titles up, trust me, you'll enjoy them if you like foreign films that are different. So Tube is even more disappointing from that point of view. Yes, the production value is quite high, the visuals and overall direction is competent, and the performances are OK. It's just that the writing is completely bland, dull, and it has a major negative effect on the overall quality of the final result.
This movie is surprisingly well promoted here in the USA. It got several shelves a my local video store, and features an English-dubbed 5.1 soundtrack. Although i hate dubbed stuff, the fact that this movie got the dubbing treatment is a big deal. All combined, that's pretty big for a foreign movie, especially a Korean one, which hasn't been released in the theaters. Additionally, the DVD cover says that this is from the creator of Shiri, which was a massive blockbuster in South Korea in 1999 and ushered the country into producing more modern American-like action-thrillers fares. Shiri was pretty good, but comparing it to Tube is very misleading and borders on fraudulent advertising. The preview made it look interesting, but it's just a big let-down in the end. Don't bother, and don't be fooled into wasting your money on it. Rent some of the other films i mentioned instead: they'll have a much bigger impact on you.
- Laurent Hasson