January 26, 2014

The Outlaw: Quitting the Force to Be More Forceful

Officer Oh (Kam Woo-seong) doesn't play by the rules. Oh, no. He's a renegade cop who believes you gotta step outside the law to serve the law. Needless to say, that approach -- while lowering crime rates -- has landed him in trouble with Internal Affairs infinite times. But lately he's gone from outside the law to off the rails. When his long missing wife (Kim Min-joo) and the daughter (Hyeon Na-gyeong) he never knew are pointlessly stabbed to death in a restaurant bathroom, he turns in his badge and picks up a torture porn mask then goes for the kill on two murdering party animals (Peter Ronald Holman, Tak Tu-in) and the negligent members of a justice departments that let those jerks off Scot free.

Catering to an audience that craves shock and gore, writer-director Kim Cheol-han packs a lot of on-screen violence in The Outlaw. You see multiple throats slit, a finger shot off, and men mercilessly beaten with chains. Whether it's good guys or bad guys inflicting the violence varies. Gannibalism? Bad guy. Rape? Bad guy. Impromptu laryngectomy? Good guy, actually. Is Kim attempting to show that too many years in Homicide will lead a cop to adopt the very methodology of those he's out to imprison? Perhaps. But he's also a director who simply likes to show brutality. Why else show Oh having a group hug with his family's bloody corpses?

Fun fact: While researching The Outlaw on asianwiki.com (which is devoted to Asian movies and TV), I discovered that the website sometimes includes the actor's blood type alongside his height, weight and age. Why this is relevant or important, I don't know but if you were curious, Kam Woo-seong is Type O. I also googled up Korean blood type personalities and learned that Type O carriers tend to be "outgoing" and "optimistic" so maybe he was miscast in this role as an anti-social misanthrope. Some actors sure love to play against type!

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