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Yoo Hae-Jin (right) and his serial killer passenger Jin Goo (left) in Truck.
Korean: 트럭
Year: 2008  

Kwon Hyung-Jin


Jang Hyung-Mo

  Cast: Yoo Hae-Jin, Jin Goo, Lee Joon-Ha, Lee Chae-Young, Bang Yeong, Park Ji-Ho, Kim Joon-Bae, Jang Joon-Nyong
  The Skinny:

This Korean thriller emulates both the best and worst of a Hollywood B-movie. At times gripping and intense, the film delivers exactly what one would expect from such a film with its gimmick.

Kevin Ma:

One can easily imagine the idea for Truck being pitched at a Hollywood script meeting. Despite being a completely original Korean creation, writer Jang Hyung-Mo and director Kwon Hyung-Jin take some of Hollywood's favorite thriller elements - a serial killer, an empty countryside highway, the innocent everyman, a truck, and a whole lot of dead bodies - and essentially create a Korean version of a Hollywood B-movie. But since this is a Korean film, there's also the sick child and about a gallon of blood mixed in. While Truck won't be the next film festival darling, it will find plenty of friends in one of those "Azn Xtreme" product lines from a hip overseas DVD distributor.

Cheol-Min (Yoo Hae-Jin) is just like any other truck driver trying to make ends meet he drives day and night, transporting as much as he can to support his mother and cute daughter. However, trouble knocks on his door when his daughter falls ill and he needs $65,000 to get her a heart transplant. With nowhere else to turn, Cheol-Min risks all his money and his truck at the gambling table with the help of a friend. In typical film noir fashion, the card game turns out to be a scam, and Cheol-Min falls into deeper trouble when he witnesses a mob boss murdering a few people. With both his and his daughter's lives at stake, he is forced to use his truck to transport the dead bodies to a secret location.

Dripping blood and unexpected police checkpoints turn out to be the least of Cheol-Min's problems when he encounters the aftermath of an accident involving a prison van along the way. Even though he tries to ignore the accident, he eventually picks up a policeman that survived the accident, who tells him that the van was transporting captured serial killer Yeong-Ho. Of course, in a "surprise twist" that is surely not much of a surprise, the policeman in Cheol-Min's truck is Yeong-Ho, setting up a bloody struggle between Cheol-Min, the serial killer, and the police.

While the individual cinematic elements in Truck have been used again and again in other movies, the filmmakers are smart to combine these elements to torment their protagonist into a seemingly hopeless situation. The suspense comes from the fact that Cheol-Min is forced to play along not only because Yeong-Ho continuously puts his life in danger, but also because he himself is not entirely innocent. Truck takes its time to get going, but becomes a surprisingly gripping and intense film once the central conflict kicks in. In classic B-thriller fashion, nobody is spared in Yeong-Ho's path, resulting in a bloodbath that will put mainstream audiences at constant unease and leave thriller fans craving for more.

However, the filmmakers are also so into their genre exercise that they also repeat some of its most glaring problems. After bringing Cheol-Min to the point of no return, the filmmakers resort to a lazily constructed happy ending that brings things to a quick close at the cost of opening up many plot holes. As a result, Cheol-Min's situation is never brought to fully satisfying dramatic effect. Meanwhile, Jin Goo's Yeong-Ho simply follows the long tradition of movie serial killers by offering only his boyish looks, creepily quiet demeanor, and his amazing resurrection abilities to the proceedings. By pretending to be the unlikely type of serial killer, Yeong-Ho is ironically the opposite.

Truck may not be innovative or even all that memorable, but it does take enough advantage of its one-line gimmick, and is a satisfying thrill ride for those who know what they're in for. The film doesn't try to exceed expectation (though it has a larger share of melodrama than the usual genre thrillers), nor does it ever fail to live up to it. Kwon wisely chooses to stick close to the thriller path, using unpredictable silence rather than momentary noise shocks to keep his audience on edge. By delivering exciting genre thrills with a surprisingly low budget, it's no surprise that Truck was a moderate box office success in its native land. And just in case you can't get enough of the creepy serial killer and the body-carrying truck, that Hollywood remake meeting is probably happening this very moment. (Kevin Ma, 2009)

Notes: • This review is based on the theatrical cut. There is an extended version on the 2-Disc DVD that runs about 8 minutes longer, but it has no English subtitles.  

DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
2-Disc Special Edition
Premier Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable Korean and English Subtitles
Various Extras

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