"I'm glad I watched it. Would I watch it again? Yes, but mainly to see Lee Jae-eun."

- Mighty Peking Man

Jakarta (2001)

Director: Jeong Cho-Shin

Cast: Kim Sang-joong, Lim Chang-jung, Yoon Da-hoon, Jin Hee-kyung, Lee Jae-eun

Running Time: 96 mins.

Plot: Three groups of people rob the same bank at the same exact time.

Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com


MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Thanks to that goofy guy who fucked Mira Sorvino, film directors and writers are emulating his style of 'out-of-sequence' plot lines and 'multiple perspectives'. Although he's not the first to construct stories in this fashion, Quentin Tarantino was definitely the first to make it popular in 1994's "Pulp Fiction" nearly a decade ago. As any film buff can see, these kinds of films are still going strong (most recently taken to another level in Christopher Nolan 's "Memento"). It's amazing how much impact one film can have on the movie industry - not just in Hollywood, but all around the world.

This brings us to Jeong Cho-Shin's fun-filled heist film "Jakarta", a total mind-tease of a movie due to it's constant circus act of twists and turns. The plot centers around three groups of people who are about to rob the same bank at the same exact time. Sound realistic? Of course not.

Beware of some spoilers in the next paragraph only:

As the plot thickens you realize what appears to be "too much coincidence" is not exactly so. The three groups, at first, appear to have separate plans, not knowing the other groups' purposes. As it turns out, portions of the three groups are secretly working together - hence, serious acts of betrayal, backstabbing and deceit take place - not to mention a little heartbreak as well. As messy as it sounds, it really isn't. The writers make the plot structure pretty straight forward and all the pieces come together as long as the viewer sticks with it. Even some neat comic-book scenes were used as effective plot devices to tell the tale.

"Jakarta", a fun film indeed, but for some reason I can't define, I feel forced to be over-critical about it. Maybe it's the fact that it's the first Korean film that I thought was on the "so-so" side. Whatever it may be, here I go:

One of the first things I noticed about the film was it's "wannabe" stylish cinematography. As interesting and hip as the plot was, I was expecting the same visually. Instead, the visuals I got were even lacking the scope that most low-low budget films seemed to have no problem accessing. It's almost as if the makers spent most of their experience producing cheap Korean TV sitcoms or After School Special-type projects before making their break into real movie-making. And when they finally did, they probably were thinking "let's make this stylish. I want quick cuts and zooms on that gun...I want to make this movie-making to it's finest-artistic potential...". The outcome: a high-budget, well-written, High School play that was shot, edited and made into a film. I realize how stupid that sounds, but that's what I see.

And the characters. Aw God. All but ONE of the characters in this film are uninteresting, unlikeable and played awfully - not acted awfully, played awfully. It might of been one of those cases where they picked all the right talent for roles they weren't suitable for. The humorous were not so funny. The dramatic were not so serious. The intense were not so fierce. Call them sucky actors, call it bad casting, whatever it is, I just don't care for them. Take a look at some of the facial expressions made by the guy who plays the Bank's Vice President. Also, check out how extremely annoying the presence of the "hair" guy (this fool has his hair held up by a piece of plastic or whatever the hell that is!). I also can't say much about the other guys and that middle-aged looking babe either. They just didn't have any appeal.

That ONE character that does have appeal is Lee Jae-eun, she plays the bank employee/girlfriend of the Vice President. Not only does she sizzle in the looks department, but the performance she puts into her character is natural, sexy and very believable - especially compared to the rest of the dull cast. Hell, I'm not even afraid to say that she's the best thing about this movie. Check this out: I hear she's in a movie called "Yellow Hair", a very controversial Korean film where she supposedly "shows all". Asia, Kobe...eat your heart out ladies.

With all the bitching I've made about "Jakarta", I still have to say that it did it's job. It entertained me, it was unpredictable as intended, and I had more than a few chuckles. I'm glad I watched it. Would I watch it again? Yes, but mainly to see Lee Jae-eun. But once I get my copy of "Yellow Hair", I'm placing "Jakarta" next to that old copy of "Rumble in the Bronx".