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Cold Eyes ("Gamsijadeul")

Quebec Premiere
  • South Korea
  • 2013
  • 118 mins
  • DCP
  • Korean
  • English (subtitles)
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“A slick and clever thriller, with dynamic pacing, strong lensing and a particularly strong use of space” – Pierce Conran, TWITCH

A complex, gripping chain of events is underway. A woman is tracking an older man, amidst the hustle and bustle of Seoul subways. Armed with a tremendous photographic memory, people zip by her as she mentally records the man’s every movement and action. What initially appears to be a chase reveals itself to be a test, as Detective Hwang (Seol Kyung-gu) recruits the young and incredibly gifted rookie cop to be part of his crack team of surveillance experts. Nearby, an explosion goes off; a diversion, orchestrated by mastermind thief James (Jung Woo-sung), a super-criminal specializing in elaborate, spectacular heists orchestrated from high vantage points. Hwang’s team and his new recruit Ha Yoon-jo (Han Hyo-joo) are soon tasked with capturing the undefeated, untraceable and ever-elusive criminal. And unbeknownst to them, so begins a high-risk career case unlike anything they’ve attempted before — a trial by fire for Ha and her newfound team, and one that will leave no one unscathed.

The dynamite team of Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo (the former an AD to Bong Joon-ho) transpose the classic 2007 Hong Kong crime thriller EYE IN THE SKY to the slick, fast-moving, high-tech landscape of Séoul, Korea. Armed with the cross-cutting prowess of a Tony Scott, combined with the high intensity of Johnnie To (who scripted the original film), Cho and Kim orchestrate many edge-of-your-seat cat-and-mouse chases through the capital’s crowded, labyrinthine streets and buildings. The city itself comes alive in a beautiful way, incredibly photographed through all manner of the team’s surveillance apparatus. It effectively becomes an additional character to Cho and Kim’s film, allowing them to give their remake a unique aesthetic very much their own. Furthermore, the dynamic duo exhibit an incredible talent for the mise-en-scène of action, an almost innate understanding of how to choreograph car chases and manhunts in a wide-open yet oppressive urban setting. Sharp camerawork and a sustained high intensity position the two newcomers as duo of gifted action stylists to pay close attention to. With COLD EYES, they give us one of the best Korean thrillers this year has to offer, and one of South Korea’s absolute blockbuster hits of 2013, a fast-paced, relentless roller-coaster ride into the high-stakes world of criminal surveillance that will leave you absolutely breathless.

— Ariel Esteban Cayer