October 6, 2012

Kilimanjaro: A Plot as Thin as Mountain Air

There's a point midway in writer-director-nincompoop Oh Seung-ook's Kilimanjaro when one character says to another, "See you in a better world." Probably, right after that shot, the actor uttering this bit of dialogue said to his co-star, "See you in a better film," too. A convoluted mess about the disaster set off when one shamed cop named Hae-shik (Park Shin-yang) decides to impersonate his twin brother Hae-chol, an unsuccessful gangster whom he disowned right up to until witnessing his forsaken sibling's unexplained suicide, Kilimanjaro requires a second viewing to make sense of because the flashbacks always leave you unsure just which brother you're seeing on screen at any given time. Since I have neither the patience nor the inclination to sit through this film again, this review may contain some inaccuracies. I'm okay with that.

Even with these misgivings, I feel confident stating ex post facto that lead character Hae-chol/Hae-shik shouldn't be so cocky when it comes to challenging the local crime boss Jong (Kim Seung-cheol) and he should be a heck of a lot more appreciative towards his repeated savior and fellow crook Beong (Ahn Sung-kee) who, oddly enough, treats him like a brother. I also know Hae-chol and Beong have two other partners-in-crime — "Sergeant" (Jeong Eun-pyo) and "Evangelist" (Choi Seon-jung) — with whom they've bonded by being photographed shirtless on the beach many years ago. As to the rivalry between Jong's gang and Beong's, the terrible thing that Hae-chol once did that now so pisses off Jong, the reason why Hae-shik got dismissed from the police force, even the reason why Beong got married, all of these things are conveyed as significant facts that the movie keeps inexplicably veiled in mystery. Lucid Kiliminjaro is not.

Despite the confusion, Kiliminjaro culminates in a satisfyingly bloody gunfight that puts all the good guys and bad guys in one shabby room with a bunch of guns that no one seems to know how to operate. You might not know why everyone's out to kill each other but you don't question the motives either. Sometimes people just piss you off and you wish they were dead.

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