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One Movie Punch

Mar 28, 2018

Today’s movie is “Steel Rain” (2017), the South Korean political thriller written and directed by Woo-seok Yang. The film follows the fallout of an attempted coup in North Korea. Chul-woo Uhm (Woo-sung Jung), a North Korean loyalist, smuggles the injured Supreme Leader to South Korea, with the help of Chul-woo Kwak (Do-won Kwak), an analyst for the incoming South Korean government.

“Steel Rain” (2017) reminds me of the Tom Clancy novels I’ve read and film I’ve seen, an epic political story told around a high-stakes military situation. Instead of a Jack Ryan alpha male character, however, we’re treated to a quasi-buddy cop film between Uhm and Kwak, who are reacting to every twist and turn to protect the Supreme Leader and stop the activation of the nuclear arsenal.

This film is packed to the gills with action, both gunfights and close quarters. Unfortunately, it also struggles with a somewhat hokey story, with offbeat humor and questionable plot twists. The two ladies who accompany Uhm across the border with the Supreme Leader are a bit stereotypical, not to mention the portrayal of U.S., Japanese and Chinese assets within South Korea.

And yet, the film treats the quite volatile situation on the peninsula with respect, using lots of imagery throughout the film to show the odd relationship between the North and South. Uhm and Kwak have opportunities to examine each other’s culture, and the peninsula’s larger relationship with the rest of the world, especially the proxy relationships with the other superpowers. In a world where nuclear tensions with North Korea are at an all-time high, this film doesn’t provoke so much as examine at least one scenario if the military conflict reignites.

“Steel Rain” (2017) is a decent political thriller, a bit long, but still engaging and insightful, and about an issue of contemporary importance. The film has its flaws, but they can be overlooked in favor of the film’s strengths. Viewers who like political action films with global consequences will eat up this film, and for the international audience, the film will offer a peek into the weird détente between North and South Korea.

Rotten Tomatoes: NR

Metacritic: NR

One Movie Punch: 7.4/10

“Steel Rain” (2017) is rated TV-MA and is streaming on Netflix.