A Single Rider (2017) by Lee Joo-young (T)

A disgraced and broke fund manager leaves Korea to join his family in Sydney, Australia.


This is the second Korean movie produced, distributed by Warner Bros and it’s mainly filmed in Sydney, Australia. The first being “The Age of Shadows”, starring Song Kang-ho and directed by Kim Jee-woon.

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In “A Single Rider”, Kang Jae-hoon (played by Lee Byung-hun) is a fund broker living in Korean alone. He sent his wife Soo-jin (Kong Hyo-jin) and son Jin-woo (Yeong Yoo-jin) to live in Sydney, Australia to learn English and prepare for a better future. Due to some bad investment management and stock fraud, his company has gone under, resulting in his clients losing most of their life savings and turns him into a disgraced broker.

With his company out of business, he decides to take a trip to Sydney to meet up with his family. This is where the rest of the movie takes place, in sunny, relaxing, green suburbia Sydney. But after he arrives at the house, he discovers that his wife seems to have taken a shine to her Australian male neighbor.

Now heart broken and sadden by what he witnesses, he decides not to make any contact with his family and instead he just watches them from a distance. At this point, viewers might get impatient and frustrated with him for just being an observer. However, there is a good reason for his strange behavior and viewers who stick around will eventually find out about the film’s big twist during the last act.


While wandering like a lost soul in suburbia Sydney, he accordingly comes across a young Korean girl, So-hee (Yoo Ji -na) who is being swindled and lost all her money. As he probably relates her to his clients back in Korea who lost their money, the two of them soon bond and find comfort among themselves since they very much share the same destiny.

This is no doubt a film that showcases Lee Byung-hun’s acting range. He has abandoned his intense, physical action man of late to accommodate this very quiet, tender and sorrowful character who has lost everything. But viewers needn’t have to worry because he gives such a heartfelt performance in this one-man-show here and effortlessly carries the whole film. Kong Hyo-jin is equally good as his wife and the same goes to Yeong Yoo-jin as his son, although they do have smaller roles.


However, So-hee who plays the young misfortune girl, Yoo Ji-na, manages to inject life into her character, even though she looks rather dwarfed next to Lee’s powerhouse performance. Jack Campbell, the local Australian actor, who plays Soo-jin’s friendly neighbor Chris, fits in well as a foreigner in an Asian film and is very likable.

Female director Lee Joo-young does a good job here in creating a quiet, graceful setting in suburbia Sydney, highly contrasting the hyper-active nature of the Korean business world. Her use of music composed by Jo Yeong-wook also helps to create the right moods for the film.

Although the theme of regret, loneliness and guilt, which adds up to sound like a depressing film, nonetheless viewers will still enjoy this well-crafted family melodrama due to Lee’s acting abilities which hold their attention till the very end. Nevertheless, his fans will definitely love this film.





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Asian Film Vault: A Single Rider (2017) by Lee Joo-young (T)
A Single Rider (2017) by Lee Joo-young (T)
A disgraced and broke fund manager leaves Korea to join his family in Sydney, Australia.
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