A Company Man (2012) by Lim Sang-yoon (T)

Fans of action-thriller movies will not be disappointed by the “A Company Man” due to its quite tight script and adrenaline filled final arc.

“A Company Man” is the impressive debut of Lim Sang-yoon as a director.  The film addresses the ever popular theme of a lonely, silent, first-class contract killer who goes berserk and seeks revenge from the company he works and dedicated a huge part of his life serving.

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The story revolves around Ji Hyeong-do (So Ji-Sub) who is a white-collar worker at a company named New Continent Metals. However, this company is not a typical one. On the outside it is a metal trading company, but in reality is a contract-killing one. Ji Hyeong-do is a stylish hitman of few words and is among the most skillful contract killers in the syndicate. For one of the jobs, Ji Hyeong-do suggests that a temporary employee should do the job, meaning that Ji Hyeong-do has to kill the temporary employee after he fulfills the job. This employee is Ra-hoon (Kim Dong-jun).  Ji Hyeong-do makes his first ever mistake when he agrees to fulfill Ra-hoon’s final wish, which is to give his savings to his mother. When Ji Hyeong-do meets Ra-hoon’s mother Yuk Mi-yeon (Lee Mi-yeon) and his sister, he realizes that Yuk Mi-yeon is a former singer whom Ji Hyeong-do was fond of when he was a teenager. From that meeting on, Ji Hyeong-do becomes more and more distracted during his job, and feelings like sympathy that were well-kept buried start surfacing. The aforementioned mistakes and feelings put him, and the people he cares for, in danger, when the company discovers his change of heart.  Now, he is forced to confront the company he never before disobeyed.

“A Company Man” is a production that has various superb action scenes, especially at the beginning and towards the end. At the same time, the scenes in the company’s premises are equally impressive. In these scenes, the company’s workers, on the one hand, fill out reports -retaining the fake picture of the company- and on the other hand, hide guns in their desks and practice their fighting skills.

As the movie progresses, it becomes all and more apparent that no one can betray or leave the company without paying a price. Usually, this price is their own life and Ji Hyeong-do knows that extremely well. Despite that, Ji Hyeong-do is loyal to the company and this royalty does not stem from fear, but from his workaholic and perfectionist nature, and his dedication.  Only when he remembers his past and old-self, through Yuk Mi-yeon, he is pushed to reevaluate his perspective and ethics. Moreover, when he meets Yuk Mi-yeon, who is a single mother with two teenage kids, he understands what means to be part of a family and this affects him deeply.

So Ji-Sub is outstanding at displaying the gravitas of the contract-killer Ji Hyeong-do, yet he is also excellent at portraying the subtle awkward moments, with his eyes and body movements. Furthermore, thought these awkward moments and shy smiles, he manages to give a humane side to Ji Hyeong-do and draw compassion from the viewer. Lee Mi-yeon, after a hiatus from acting on the big screen that lasted five years, returns and delivers a solid performance as a single mother.

Kim Dong Jun of k-pop idol group ZE:A in a supporting role makes his film debut with this movie. Even though his role is very time limited, he shows an immense potential as an actor. The supporting cast also includes Jeon Gook-hwan as the Company’s Representative Jeon and Kwak Do-won as the senior manager Gwon. These two actors elevate the value of the film by giving substance to the characters they portray as their characters give a glimpse of the company’s various corporate politics.

Director Lim Sang-yoon with cinematographer Lee Hyoung-duk incorporates various impressive scenes. Among them are the horizontal and vertical passages of the camera through the building’s walls to transfer to the next scene and the panoramic view of the narrow crowed-free streets.  As already mentioned, there are several action scenes and these are far from dull. The slick and, at the same time, fast body movements, during the hand-to-hand fight scenes are impressively choreographed. Furthermore, the fight scenes become even more powerful with the help of the fast editing by Nam Na-young, but also slow enough to not disturb the continuity. Especially the fight sequences in confined spaces are top-notch and one scene that stays engraved in the viewer’s mind, even after the end of the movie, is the one in the car, towards the finish. In this utterly outstanding scene, the camera rotates around the car and even follows a bullet through the car roof. As for the electronic rock music that accompanies these aforesaid scenes, it fits them perfectly.

Fans of action-thriller movies will not be disappointed by the “A Company Man” due to its quite tight script and adrenaline filled final arc.



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Asian Film Vault: A Company Man (2012) by Lim Sang-yoon (T)
A Company Man (2012) by Lim Sang-yoon (T)
Fans of action-thriller movies will not be disappointed by the “A Company Man” due to its quite tight script and adrenaline filled final arc.
Asian Film Vault
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