October 13, 2013

IRIS: The Movie: Binging on a TV Series Without Watching the Whole Thing

To join the staff of the secret service of North or South Korea, you're going to need a dollop of hair gel. The same goes for members of IRIS, a terrorist organization plotting to nuke Seoul as a way to make a statement about re-unification. (I'm not totally sure if they're for or against it.) Among those with the most stylish hairdos is Kim Hyeon-jun (Lee Byung-hun), an undercover assassin who gets double-crossed by the South Koreans then defects to the enemy before realizing matters are more complicated than simple betrayal.

Throughout the twists and turns and hair-rsising stunts of Iris: The Movie, Hyeon-jun emerges as a super-spy akin to Jason Bourne with whom he shares an unnatural ability to dodge bullets shot at close range and survive the one lucky bullet that hits him as if it were no more than a stomach cramp. He also does crazy stunts like repel down the side of a dam while holding a young girl in one arm, and hijack a truck then a plane then a car then a city bus.

Yet despite his bulletproof aura and his multi-vehicle driver's license, Hyeon-jun isn't necessarily ahead of the game. You see, he isn't a big picture thinker. He doesn't investigate his situation. Instead, he comes across info that makes him reconsider his predicament as he bounces from Hungary to Korea to Japan to Korea to China to Korea again. Sometimes, he's accompanied by a sexy rebel (Kim So-yeon) with an edgy variation of Dorothy Hamill's bowl cut; sometimes by his weepy girlfriend (Kim Tae-hee) who's got a tamed down version of Jennifer Aniston's 'do. Neither woman can make sense of Hyeon-jun's story. Maybe this movie is only for fans of the TV series from which it borrows most of its footage. For the uninitiated, IRIS: The Movie is a well-coifed mess. Now will someone please tell me the name of Hyeon-jun's stylist?

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