Some (썸, Jang Yoon-hyeon: 2004)
Jang Yoon-hyeon’s previous film – the popular Tell Me Something (1999) – played out, in many ways, like a ‘greatest hits’ thriller with horror elements in its generous lifting of ideas from the likes of Se7en (David Fincher, 1995), Kiss The Girls (Gary Fleder, 1997) and Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven, 1992). For his follow up effort (with a five year gap between feature projects) Jang opts for a more subtle approach to, what is in many ways, overly worn material, but manages to to use a twist and some stylistic choices to create a refreshingly original experience.
Some is a cop procedural thriller with all of plot beats we’ve come to be familiar with. Undercover cop Kang Seong-ju (in a confident turn from Soo Go) is tracking a young gang who he believes has a connection to a significant source of drugs, while the gang themselves are being hunted by a group of gangsters. Kang’s investigation is difficult enough as his ex-partner is being investigated by internal affairs and his boss keeps trying to reign him in. Things become more complicated still when Kang inadvertently saves news reporter Seo Yu-jin (an impressive Song Ji-hyo) from being attacked by the group of gangsters, and who – as is the case with these things – may just hold the link to piece together his investigation. If all of this sounds a little confused then don’t worry, because it’s not. If it sounds a little old-hat, then don’t worry – it is. The ace up Jang Yonn-hyeon’s sleeve is the use of a sub-plot involving the reporter Seo Yu-jin: as luck would have it she seems to have a type of psychic ability which allows her to ‘remember’ what will happen a few minutes into the future. Sounds dumb? Luckily it’s handled incredibly well and runs with its ideas without looking back (those wanting a full explanation for events will be disappointed) and in doing so Some becomes a thriller concerned with twists and atmosphere told in a refreshingly new way.
Along with its new narrative take on old material, Some is put together with some great visuals and and a strong soundtrack. The overall feel is stylised throughout, the cinematography from the ever brilliant Kim Sung-bog is energetic (the camera is moved a whole lot) and the editing is fast to match without resorting to Michael Bay-like super-fast cuts. The tempo and stylistic choices follow through to the way the ‘psychic’ elements are handled and the hyper-real / dream feel only serve to make the ‘visions’ seem all the more natural. A soundtrack that kicks in with an excited ‘dance’ feel (and occasionally trip-hop sounding) works well rather than being invasive. While there’s surprisingly little action in Some, the handful of set-pieces that it does have (a car chase, a warehouse, a fist fight) are slick and manage to serve the story rather than the other way around. Thematically Some doesn’t stray too far from the obvious – to do so may risk revealing a few holes in its narrative – but there’s an interesting underlying theme of connection and disconnection through technology throughout. Mobile phones, CCTV cameras, MP3 players and digital cameras are both the cause and the necessary ingredient for the interaction between Some‘s key players and their relationship to one another. Much like the fore-vision of reporter Seo it’s flagged in interesting ways, although it’s not pushed to any great conclusion.
While Some has plenty to make it worthy of a recommendation, it’s not perfect – for a film that manages to keep your interest from the outset it has a disappointingly flat conclusion, the only time that the film dips into something more standard. It’s not bad by any means – it makes sense that the film runs to the point that it does – but by the final wrap up Jang Yoon-hyeon is out of tricks and so opts to finish things quite methodically. This aside, Some is an interesting couple of hours – a neat little genre flick that deserves to be seen more, its subtleties having never generated anywhere near the same level of interest as Jang’s previous ‘extreme’, but ultimately less interesting, film.
Directed by Jang Yoon-hyeon
Produced by Kim Hye-suk
Written by Kim Eun-shil, Kim Eun-jung
Starring Soo Go, Song Ji-hyo, Lee Dong-kyu, Kang Shin-il, Kang Sung-jin, Jo Kyeong-hun
Some Image © C&Film Co. Ltd