"Director Na Hong Jin (The Chaser) once again teams up with actors Kim Yoon Seok and Ha Jung Woo for The Yellow Sea, a compelling new thriller that saw Ha Jung Woo win Best Actor at the 5th Asian Film Awards for his screen-hogging turn. He plays taxi driver Gu Nam, a desperate man knee deep in gambling debt, searching for the wife that left him behind. To clear his debt and find his wife, he reluctantly takes a job to assassinate a businessman in South Korea. When the job goes wrong, Gu Nam finds himself the target of a lacklustre police force, the mafia, and the man who hired him, brutal assassin Myun Ga (Kim Yoon Seok).
For a film that relies so heavily on hand to hand combat, it would’ve been nice to see Na Hong Jin take the same approach in the editing room. The Yellow Sea could’ve benefited from a leaner cut, but much like the films tireless protagonist, once it gets going it barely stops for breath. Guns are hard to get hold of in Korea but knife fights are all the rage, and Na Hong Jin’s not one to hold back when it comes to glimmering brutality. The Yellow Sea is blessed with some of the most electrifying action sequences of the year, up close, personal and ferociously real. There are several key chase sequences (by car and by foot), and each thrilling set piece goes out of its way to better the last.
The Yellow Sea doesn’t quite live up to his sublime debut, but with strong performances, gut-wrenching intensity and stunning chase sequences, Na Hong Jin has created a more than worthy follow up. It does drag its heels in places – especially in the first hour – but there’s a fantastic action movie waiting to be discovered if you’re willing to swim that little bit further out." AW