April 22, 2013

The Unjust: Apparently, Every Side of the Law Is the Backside

A rapist-murderer is on the loose in Seoul, South Korea. But that's of little concern to anyone in The Unjust, a wobbly crime pic in which cops frame mentally deficient suspects, real estate moguls back stab each other to death, and public prosecutors wear their bribes as badges of honor while the psychopath molests and kills another young girl in the city. Apparently, law officials are too obsessed with getting promotions or a new set of golf clubs to be bothered worrying about the sex criminal headlining the nightly news.

It's as if writer Park Hoon-jung (I Saw the Devil) and director Ryu Seung-wan (Crying Fist) are suggesting that a sociopath is nothing compared to the unsavory types employed by the legal system. Prosecutor Joo-yang (Ryu Seung-beom) is more amoral as he extorts public figures and bullies co-workers with his shit-eating grin; big businessman Jang (Yu Hae-jin) is more corrupt as he wheels and deals for supremacy in real estate, with an even shittier grimace; and detective Choi (Hwang Jeong-min) is more desperate as he vies for a supervisor position, his face neither grinning nor grimacing but staring deadpan at the world as if life were a poker game.

The only really pitiable character is convicted child-molester/prime-suspect Lee Dong-seok (Woo Dong-gi), with his missing half-finger. And since he's a child molester, the pity only goes so far. Actually, the one character to elicit true sympathy is Lee's wife. Played by actress Lee Mi-do with startling realism, this mentally incapacitated woman appears to have walked out of a documentary into a so-so thriller. Lost and bewildered with a child by her side, she gapes at terrors and complications she can neither overcome nor understand. I wish The Unjust had justified her look of woe.

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