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Many domestic viewers compared the film to the Jason Bourne series, but despite a few superficial concession to the latter's fragmentary style, The Berlin File is a throwback to the "serious" espionage thrillers of '60s and '70s, films such as The Quiller Memorandum (1966, also set in Berlin and written by Harold Pinter), A Dandy in Aspic (1968) and Three Days of Condor (1975).(Written on April 11) Reviewed below: The Berlin File (Jan 30) -- How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (Feb 14) -- New World (Feb 21) -- Nobody's Daughter Haewon (Feb 28) -- Jiseul (Mar 21) -- Very Ordinary Couple (Mar 21) -- Horror Stories 2 (Jun 5) -- Cold Eyes (Jul 3) -- The Terror Live (Jul 31) -- The Face Reader (Sep 11) -- Our Sunhi (Sep 12) -- The Russian Novel (Sep 19) -- Hwayi: A Monster Boy (Oct 9) -- City: Hall (Oct 24) -- Blood and Ties (Oct 24) -- The Commitment (Nov 6) -- Steel Cold Winter (Nov 7) -- The Fake (Nov 21).
Ryoo, who also penned the film's unusually (for him) taut screenplay, again seems to have achieved what he does arguably better than almost any other Korean filmmaker: to come up with a film firmly grounded in the Euro-American genre conventions and at the same time in the unique features of the Korean historical experience-in this case, a bona fide Cold War espionage film entirely bereft of nostalgia, for the simple reason that for North and South Koreans of today the Cold War still remains an unassailable "reality." I initially approached The Berlin File with some trepidation, since what I had heard through grapevine about the film made me anticipate something on the order of a commercialized hybrid between The City of Violence (2006) and Park Chan-wook's Joint Security Area (2000), in which the North-South relations, perhaps in the form of a macho male-bonding between Northern and Southern agents, would be at the center stage.
The drama then progresses with them as how they deal with this new relation, and find love in it.
Uhm Tae Woong stars as a rich agency head, who creates troubles for them. The drama is full of the latter’s trademark style elements, quirky dialogues, wits, fun, shenanigans and emotional strengths. The plot is interesting enough to make you stick with it till the end. Each episode ends with a parody of the folk tale with our leads dressed in the sageuk attire, which is really fun to watch.
Also, the script is interesting enough so that the show never leaves it’s ‘never-a-dull-moment’ factor. He has a perfect comic timing, an infinite range of expressions and immense likability.
One problem I have with the show is that the negative characters are given way too importance in terms of plotting and manipulations. But as I said, the leads are so lovable that we care for them to see how they will come out of the mess.Ryoo stumbles somewhat in a series of extravagantly ambitious action sequences that build up to the film's finale, with its occasionally haphazard continuities and CG-rendered, cheap-looking explosions.On the other hand, technical specs are dependably superior.This is the only thing I have seen Uhm Taw Woong in (and ya, there is that forgetful movie as well, ) and I think he has acted really well, but I really hated his character here, which turned from a caring second lead to complete antagonist in the later half.Lee In Hye and Moon Ji Yoon are great in their supporting roles.