While the obvious fantastic trapping of "Timing" is the existence of people with time manipulation superpowers, two other points need to be noted right away. In this universe shamans have very real, very measurable powers concerning future sight and illusions. Additionally, there are death messengers, normal mortals with the ability to aid departed spirits in their journey to the afterlife. It's a lot to take in, although Kang Full fans will recognize almost all of the mythology.
For the totally uninitiated viewer, though, all this information mostly just works to make "Timing" slow to a crawl. The pacing in particular is often quite bad- near the climax almost all of the action comes to a complete stop as one character explains their backstory and motivation in obscene detail. In this way "Timing" is one of the more obvious comic book adaptations I've ever seen- these kinds of extended flashbacks can work in print, but on film they're utterly exhausting.
In terms of actual narrative, "Timing" is literally the story of a group of superheroes coming together to try and prevent the inevitable tragic consequences of fate, emphasis on fate. Don't expect too much from this movie in the action department. Characters are somewhat sparing to the extent they're actually willing to use their powers, mostly because there's very little practical utility to them. More often than not their attempts to save lives end in failure, because these abilities only really work that well in very specific circumstances.
Thematically this is mostly the main philosophical discussion point of the film as well. Even in a world where superpowers exist, they appear to function mostly in relation to fate- nobody has the ability to go all maverick and meaningfully change the universe's inevitable predetermined outcomes. And whether they even should is…well, unclear. "Timing" gets so wrapped up in its own meta-analysis that it's often very difficult to relate any message the movie is trying to communicate to the real world.
At least the animation is pretty good. "Timing" is a Korean/Japanese co-production, and the style of the artwork definitely hews more to the mainstream style in the latter country. The main things it borrows from Kang Full are the slow, subtle, understated movements that work to make even the action sequences fairly calm, deliberate affairs rather than anything that directly pumps tension in to the bloodstream.
I haven't read the original book on which the movie is based, but I think I've read enough Kang Full to be able to say comfortably that this is a fairly accurate adaptation in terms of the steady deliberate storytelling hallmarks that Kang Full is best known for. Whether this is relevant to any of you readers out there who don't know anything about Kang Full, well, I don't know.
In the end, "Timing" is an animated action/horror/suspense film that uses extremely fantastic trappings as background elements for extended discussion on the notion of fighting fate. At the production level, it's competent. On the viewer level, though, this may be an odd enough product to warrant watching for novelty value, but probably not as generic entertainment.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Busan International Film Festival Movie Review] "Timing" by Min Kyung-jo"
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