Hindsight – Film Review

Hindsight 2011 posterNow this film review is way overdue as Lee Hyeon Seung was actually July’s director of the month! But this movie is so chocked filled with film semiotics that our brain overloaded just thinking about where to start with the review!

Hindsight, how does one begin talking about Hindsight? To give you the usual plot summary, this film is about a retired gangster who meets a young girl. This young girl is actually spying on him due to some loan shark problems and is very, very skilled with guns and shooting things. Director Lee Hyeon-Seung likes to explore male and female relationships in his movies and this is still very much the case in Hindsight as we see a “relationship” between ahjussi Doo Hyeon and Se Bin. But there is one very significant difference between Hindsight and his previous films, the female in this “relationship” is a teen with full on emo hair and permanent teen strop posture, nothing like the independent woman leads from his earlier work.  This movie had a little bit of everything, literally.

Hingsight GangstersWe kind of feel like Mr Lee was trying to reach out to the younger audiences or trying to get into the mind of Se Bin the young teenage girl. Which believe us, is a tapestry of a million emotions. We see Se Bin going from dark evil teen one second to cute and adorable girl the next. The teenage mood swings are hard to keep a track of and makes the atmosphere and genre of this movie equally like the roller coaster of a teenage girl’s Facebook timeline. But we feel the erratic pace of the movie also emphasises and enhances the complications of a grown man and teen girl relationship, we see what you were trying to do Director Lee. And to quote Korean Danny Dyer: “Dating a minor is never a good idea“.

Hindsight Villains

Evil Villains are evil

Just to name a few of the genres Lee Hyeon Seung tried to cram into this movie, there was the gangster movie with the evil elders of the round table conspiring, there was the suave cooking moments when we see Song Kang Ho and Shin Se Kyung’s characters at their cooking classes in a beautifully brightly lit kitchen frolicking and showing how magnificent cooking is. Then all of a sudden, it goes all teen movie on us with a movie montage of Shin Se Kyung and her best friend in beautiful glowing sun light that would not look out of place in the latest Sistar music video; we imagine this is what Lee Hyeon Seung thinks teen girls do all day. And before we can get our head around it, we suddenly find ourselves in a live action Anime movie with super evil caricature of a villian Madame Kang and her team of super evil minions with super evil bad guy hair, eye patches and of course, moustaches. It reminded us of games like Mass Effect, and just in case you didn’t get the MASSIVE hint at how super evil they are, the scene is composed of all the conventional low angle close up shots of bad guys, building their complicated guns, in a darkly lit room, in the basement of a club.

Hindsight Shin Se Kyung
Director Lee was predominately aiming for  gangster movie and he has all the conventions there, the pin suited moustached bad guy with equally well dressed right hand men. The epic funeral scene in a temple with people all in black. Partner all that with some shaky hand camera work, orchestral music and artist camera angles along with some swift and sudden montages of assassinations and all Hong Kong triad film fans will feel right at home. With Hindsight Director Lee is trying to experiment with genres but we’re not sure how successful the result is. The sudden change from dark gangster drama to bubble gum MV is baffling. One minute Se Bin is trying to kill Doo Hyeon and before you know it we find ourselves in a romcom between the two characters, they play dress up and run around and take purikura photos together. Maybe this is the Korean way – we’re all used to how all Korean films will have an element of comedy to them, that’s why we love them, but this change is too constant and incoherent which leaves it very hard for us to actually immerse ourselves into the story and identify with the characters.

Before attending this screening we did some research and as this movie was a comeback for Lee Hyeon Seung after a 10 year haitus, people had high expectations for this film. This film is entertaining, it’s definitely worth a watch when you feel like some light hearted entertainment. Song Kang Ho who plays Doo Hyeon is awesome and charming to no end, this erratic genre mix-up really gives him a chance to exercise all his acting skills, from gangster boss, loveable ahjussi to man in puppy love. We are also all very fond of Cheon Jeong-Myeon as seen in Hansel & Gretel that was recently screened on Film4. This film is shot very well, you can certainly see all the effort Director Lee has put into the detailing of each shot. The only thing that let this movie down slightly is the interweaving of genres that we felt could have been done slicker. Hindsight could easily be split into 2 other films, one solely concentrating on the action and the other on the romance. All the elements are there for an epic comic book style gangster movie and refreshingly new oppa romcom. We especially love the perching on the roof by epically evil bad guy in the end, but all these awesome comic book style scenes seem misplaced.

Hindsight photobooth

We feel Director Lee’s mission to combine these genres may have also been the catalysis for the “cop-out” ending. The awesome thing about these Director interviews is that we have the chance to confront the directors about their decisions (if we are brave enough). Someone luckily was, which gave Director Lee a chance to explain himself. During filming, Lee Hyeon Seung had to make a lot of compromises such as tight schedules which meant he couldn’t have many action scenes with Shin Se Kyung as there was no time to train. The main knock back during filming was the weather. Director Lee’s original master plan for the ending was to have Doo Hyeon lying in the salt lakes with a smile on his face to signify the idea that maybe he didn’t die or then again maybe this is all just a happy dream? But because it was so cold, even professional Song Kang Ho couldn’t drum up a smile whilst lying in the freezing cold waters. We suppose this might have worked, but still a bit candy floss and cherry pies for our liking. So what is our final verdict on Hindsight? It is certainly an entertaining film and we enjoyed ourselves; you just need to embraced the multitude of genres. And with that, we thought we would end with our favourite quote from Doo Hyeon: Cucumber is a loner of the vegetable world.


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