Monday, 20 April 2015


Blending genres is no small task, but Jang Cheol Su (Bedevilled) makes a good fist of it with sophomore effort, 'Secretly, Greatly'. A huge box-office hit back home, 'Secretly, Greatly' might struggle to find an audience on our shores because of its refusal to adhere to any one genre. 

Action fans will get a kick out of the final act; a dark and sombre affair with impressive combat sequences. Fans of Korean drama will fall in love with the first half of the picture, a goofy yet wonderfully observed comedy about a young spy assuming the identity of village idiot and falling over a lot. 

Based on the popular webtoon series “Covertness” by Hun, 'Secretly, Greatly' stars three of Korea's most promising young actors. Kim Soo Hyun (“The Thieves”) takes on lead duties, with Lee Hyun Woo (“To the Beautiful You”) and Park Ki Woong (“War of the Arrows”) offering sturdy support. 

They play a trio of young North Korean spies infiltrating a quiet suburb in the South. Ryu-hwan has been playing the role of village idiot for two years when his fellow spies arrive. He knows the locals pretty well and has perfected the art of complete lunacy. Falling down stairs on a daily basis, taking a dump in the street once every six months - that kind of thing. There are rules, don't you know? 

With the drastic power shift in the North Korean government, the three spies finally receive their mission, but it's not what they were expecting. Will they complete their mission or have they become a little too comfortable in their new roles? Backed up by quirky locals and memorable villains, 'Secretly Greatly' is two films for the price of one - both a blessing and a curse.

The problem is, it's almost disappointing when the action kicks in because the drama angle is played so well. Kim Soo Hyun is exceptional in his dual-role; charming and convincing as both village idiot and renegade super-spy. It might be a little too drawn out for some, particularly for those looking for their next action fix, but it's hard to criticise a movie that gets pretty much everything right. The drama is funny, touching and affecting, and the action sequences - when they do arrive - are fast, fresh and slick. 

'Secretly, Greatly' is, at times, a jarring blend of violent action and sweet natured drama. The reason it works is because both elements are handled so effectively. Kim Soo Hyun is a revelation in the lead role and if you can overlook the peculiar shift in tone, chances are you'll have a whale of a time. 

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