November 19, 2015

Assassination: Causing a Takedown

Although it's painful to admit, terrorism is the war tactic of the underdog. Unable to compete in terms of the number of bodies or the power of military hardware, the little guy is left to underhanded methods, stealth operations, symbolic massacres, assassination. So how you respond to Choi Dong-hoon's flick Assassination is probably connected to how you feel about the Koreans overthrowing their Japanese conquerors back in the day. Should you fall in the "by any means necessary" camp, the movie is as flag-waving as can be. It's uplifting! Should you subscribe to a "fair play" mentality in war, you may feel more conflicted. But does anyone not want to see the Koreans win here? Does anyone think these nationalists need to wait until they've organized a proper army? Or gone through the proper channels?

But when you apply that mindset to the current political climate, what happens? Suddenly, a movie like Assassination is playing on two distinct levels: the patriotic one and the insurgent one. Oh, it's easy to see that in this case The Cause is just, and that we're right to side with the sharpshooter (Jun Ji-hyun) and to revile the a-hole (Lee Jung-jae) who's infiltrating the revolution on behalf of the enemy. But in a weird way, as members of a capitalist country, we're probably most like Hawaii Pistol (Ha Jung-woo), the mercenary who has to re-evaluate his personal ethics in order to make the noble choice: the right of the people and not the reward of the dollar. There's an underlying appeal to Assassination that has to do with the pleasures of seeing the dark horse win. (That it's set in the past also makes it more clear cut.) But what happens when you're a part of the all-engulfing power? part of empowering the big guy? Surely, size isn't inherently corrupt. And if it is, what can we do about it?

For now, regardless, I'm in complete support of this movie. Viva la revolution!

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