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`Monopoly' Is Too Familiar a Magic Trick

2006/06/01 | Permalink | Source

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By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

When you watch such films as "Sixth Sense" and "The Usual Suspects", you reach a point when you realize you've been totally deceived throughout the film or that your guess has taken you in the wrong direction.

Reaching such a moment of realization means you lost the guessing game, but you can still find film fun just like you enjoy a magic trick.

New crime thriller Monopoly tries hard to play tricks on audiences _ to offer them such realization in the end _ but it falls short as the director's tricks are too familiar and predictable.

Directed by Lee Hang-bae and starring Yang Dong-gun and Kim Sung-soo, the film revolves around two friends who team up to commit a crime.

In the film, Kyong-ho (played by Yang) is a computer genius, who works at a network security company protecting the nation's banks from computer hackers. He is sophisticated, intelligent, but unsociable, and his hobby is collecting action figures and playing with them.

His humdrum life faces unexpected changes as Korean-American businessman John enters the scene. Kyong-ho is immediately attracted by John as he seems to have many characteristics Kyong-ho has long admired.

Their relationship hints at homosexuality, but John asks Kyong-ho for a dangerous favor _ to help him to hack the bank network server and withdraw a small amount of money from almost every bank account in the nation.

Kyong-ho discovers John intentionally approached him for the plan, but he can't help but get involved as he finds himself already enmeshed in the crime.

The film begins with Kyong-ho in an interrogation room confessing to how he met John and became involved in the crime. His recollection gives audiences clues and invites them to play a guessing game as to how things have been bugled and how they will end.

But audiences soon lose interests in the game as it seems too easy.

The director puts too much emphasis on a smart plot twist, but the buildups are weak and the tricks the director plays on audiences are too familiar to deceive, given the fact that audiences are already prepared for the unexpected turn that the film will take.

A well-organized plot twist at the end is one of the many important elements in thriller movies, which works as a delightful surprise, but without proper buildups, it can be merely a lame trick that no one will buy.

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