Streaming Review: A Company Man (2012) Korea

fullsizephoto254643 Streaming Review: A Company Man (2012) Korea

One of the drawbacks of being such a fan of Asian cinema is knowing how fond these filmmakers are of infusing their stories with a touch of tragedy to make them more poignant. I’m not talking about the whole set up that American dramas like to do where they introduce an adorable but clearly expendable character, someone comparable to a cuddly little teddy bear, then kill them off for tragedy’s sake. No, I’m talking about the kind of story where main characters get killed off just because. So for me, when I’m watching, it becomes a sort of game wondering who will get the ax this time.

A Company Man is a Korean action flick that strikes a fun comparison between the idea of working for a hit squad and your average 9-5 office job. Using a metal trading company as a front, this band of murder-for-hire assassins hides in plain sight while pulling off some pretty slick executions. Their offices are located in a high rise building which on the surface, looks just like any company where employees dress in standard business attire and sit in cubicles. But, go into the copy room in the back and a wall opens to reveal a secret passage into an alternate reality where the real receptionist is a grandma who sits at her desk knitting when she’s not receiving and unloading 9mm handguns casually like someone might take mail from the Fed Ex guy. Further in, you’ll find employees training in hand-to-hand combat and knife-fighting.

fullsizephoto256839 Streaming Review: A Company Man (2012) Korea

The main character Heyong do (played by So Ji Sub) is moving up in the ranks and experiencing a lot of the frustrations many do in a corporate setting. For example, his immediate supervisor is an authoritarian asshole who can’t even handle a weapon yet he oversees all the hits and when things don’t go the way he expects them to, he bitches out his underlings demanding answers. Heyong do puts up with the verbal abuse like many do for the sake of keeping their jobs but at the same time, he never explains why or what happened, just gives an obligatory apology which only aggravates his “superior” even more.

174950021 Streaming Review: A Company Man (2012) Korea

While the whole world-weary assassin idea has been already been done, A Company Man manages to put a different spin by combining two popular hit-man story paradigms: the assassin who falls in love and starts to question things and the hitman who trains an apprentice and grows a conscience when the kid gets hurt. Unfotunately, they ignored the “less is more” idea by having the protégé’s mom be a singer from back in the day that Heyong do had a pre-teen crush on. This adds a little too much clutter to the story forcing the script to virtually abandon the protégé angle while turning this quiet, steely, ass-kicking hitman into somewhat of a sappy romantic. And in true hit-man style, nothing says love like making it rain with a duffle bag full of stacks of won.

At the same time, one might expect a guy who has made his life all about his work to fall hard for a woman, if he’s ever going to fall at all. But as much as you might want to see Heyong do find some happiness or at least a reason to smile every once in a while, just remember, this is Korean cinema we’re talking about, not Disney. Regardless, the fight scenes and cinematography are pretty intense making this film worth seeing.  Rating: B+

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