February 17, 2017

Veteran: A Movie for the Resistance Movement

You tend to think of action movies as exaggerating dramatic conflicts as a way to heighten entertainment value but when you consider the level of corruption currently on display by today's American President and the sycophantic, morally bankrupt Republican party in both houses of Congress, it seems almost impossible to one-up the institutionalized rapacity, mendacity, racism, and sexism broadcast nightly on the network news. In other words, the grifter's world portrayed in Ryoo Seung-wan's Veteran comes across at this moment in history as unbelievably quaint. Viewed the year it came out — two years ago in 2015 — I'm guessing, I would've observed the bloodthirsty, sadistic son (Yoo Ah-in) of an unscrupulous businessman (Song Young-chang) who more or less gets away with murder thanks to ties to high ranking officials in the police department and judicial system as not so much realistic as illustrative. Now I know better.

I've no doubt that our elected officials, military personnel, government appointees, and business boardrooms are riddled with mercenary, amoral, self-serving racists from the top on down. I'm not saying everyone is a bad apple; I'm saying the rot is ubiquitous. Which is why good cops like Do-cheol (Hwang Jung-min), his social-worker wife (Jin Kyung), and his immediate supervisor (Oh Dal-su) are so important to see in the movies. I also think the movie is pretty accurate in showing that the only way people change is when their personal circle is affected. The police chief (Chun Ho-jin) is probably taking pay-outs or at the very least caving under pressure from above but once a rookie detective (Kim Shi-hoo) gets stabbed, his loyalty to his men comes to the fore. I guess some people need to feel threatened to take action. Well, feel threatened then. And then resist, resist, resist.

Footnote: Don't miss Ma Dong-seok's all-too-brief cameo when he steps out of a crowd during the final fight between the movie's hero and villain.

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