Movie review: Committment (NC16)

Movie review: Committment (NC16)
T.O.P plays the brother who is sent to a labour camp with his sister (Kim Yoo Jung, left).

Review Spy Thriller


113 minutes/2/5

The story: After his father is killed on a mission in South Korea, North Koreans Li Myung Hoon (Choi Seung Hyun, better known as T.O.P from boyband Big Bang), and his younger sister Hye In (Kim Yoo Jung) are sent to a prison labour camp. To save their lives, he becomes a spy in the South in the guise of a high-school student and becomes friends with outcast Lee Hye In (Han Ye Ri), who shares his sister's name.

See T.O.P run, see T.O.P fight, see T.O.P look cool riding a motorbike. Fans of the dashing K-popster will be thrilled just to have their idol front and centre on the screen.

Alas, this is a feature film and not a music video, which means that attention also has to be paid to the pesky attendant details of story and character development.

For a spy thriller, Commitment is shockingly boring. Stretched to an overlong two hours, it fails to build up much excitement or tension or even make one care very much for the characters.

The high school scenes sit oddly with the ones of T.O.P getting all assassin-y and could have been played up for greater contrast. It could have been fun to delve into how Myung Hoon balances hitting the books by day and killing off spooks at night.

But in the hands of debut feature director Park Hong Soo, the scenes in school feel perfunctory, with the workman-like purpose of having Myung Hoon making his sole friend.

Meanwhile, the action scenes are linked to some far-removed power struggle in North Korea. It is confusing to know who is on which side, not that it seems to matter very much in the end.

T.O.P does have some natural charisma and he can emote - to a certain extent. Myung Hoon is a young man pushed to the brink but you do not feel the extremity of his situation.

And maybe it is a North Korean thing, but his relationship with his sister borders on being too close for comfort.

Perhaps the film is really an experiment to test the commitment of the K-pop star's fans.

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