NOW YOU SEE ME… NOW YOU SEE ME AGAIN
Agent Kim (Kim Myung Min) was sent to South Korea 22 years ago by the North to spy for them. Today, he makes a living selling bootleg Viagra. He uses that money to support his wife and two kids and sends what he can to his mother back home in the North. When Department Head Choi (Yoo Hae Jin) enters the country and Agent Kim receives an assassination order to take out a defector, he must unite his old team who have acclimated to their lives in the South.
Adviser Yoon (Byun Hee Bong) is a retired senior citizen who specializes in forging IDs. Assistant Manager Kang (Yeom Jung Ah) is a single mother and real estate agent and whose expertise is in grifting. Assistant Manager Woo (Jung Kyeo Woon) is a farmer who protests against the importation of US Beef and whose expertise lies in computer hacking.
Spy is a fun, action comedy. It’s part heist caper, part spy film, part action comedy. Though it is pretty typical as far as these types of movies go. Spy recycles those typical moments you’ve seen from other films of the same genre. There’s the gangster walk on the public street, the slow moving escalator shot, trailing the spy/throwing off the tail, the planning the heist music montage and all wrapped in North Korean spy vs. South Korean spy bow. I’m so used to seeing these things that it’s become very trite and I feel like I’ve seen this movie already.
The strength of this movie lies in the casting choices. I love watching Kim Myung Min, period. But I especially love him more in comedies as his brand of oddball comedy is what makes him so enjoyable. On top of that, I was pretty blown away by the fact that he could fluidly switch from a Seoul accent to a North Korean accent in a single breath. I would think the other actors had to probably take a moment off camera to mentally adjust to the switch. Kim Myung Min just makes that look so easy.
On the other hand, I found Yoo Hae Jin’s accent to be a bit lacking. In all honesty, I think even he realized that too as he downplays the Choi character by using a stealthy, even tone. He’s so good at playing bad guys. And all different levels of bad guys: from the comedic wise guy to here, as such a badass.
Yeom Jung Ah and Jung Kyeo Woon have a cute rapport together which comprises mostly of bickering. I wouldn’t have expected that kind of chemistry from these two. Kang has that I’ve-been-burned-by-men-before demeanor and she’s quick to Woo in his place. While Woo still pines after like a puppy dog, except this dog has a Chungcheongdo accent after all those years of farming. I love the scene where he flinches in front of other North Korean spies and switches his accent for one that would sound more proper in front of a military official.
Lastly, Byun Hee Bong is your typical elderly character of the group that you expect from these movies. He’s been in the game too long and looking forward to retirement, meanwhile imparting his words of wisdom to the young’uns. Adviser is certainly the best way to describe his character.
Despite the trite plot, there is an important turning point for the characters which is aided by some nice chemistry between Kim Myung Min and Jung Man Shik who plays an NIS Section Chief. Agent Kim is so busy playing cat and mouse with basically everyone; he’s not quite on the side of the South nor is he on the side of the North either. He just wants to look out for his crew and his family. When NIS finally catches up with him, you’ve already figured out his character so there’s not really any worry about where he stands. It’s more about when Choi and NIS will find out they might be duped.
Recently there’s a trend of these spy and/or heist movies in Korea and this movie just adds to that long list. Yeah, the movie is pretty trite but it certainly knows the rules of the game for its genre(s). Still I found the cast entertaining and it’s an easy movie to watch. If all else fails, there’s probably another heist flick or spy film right around the next corner.