Tyubeu [Tube] (2003)

(On DVD, September 2005) Well, I suppose that the South Korean film industry should be proud of itself: With Tube, they have now proved that they can make overwrought B-grade dumb action pictures like Hollywood. Produced with impeccable production values but a minimum of cleverness, Tube is that old action standby, a hostage drama in a confined space. In this case, a rogue special operative goes after a politician in the Seoul subway system, and it’s up to a difficult policeman to solve the situation. The images hold their own. The pacing, not so much. A key to action film is their sense of fluidity, but Tube keeps squandering whatever good will it manages to accumulate through endless character scene padding. The characters are either clichéd or annoying, and the story simply doesn’t move quickly enough. After the promising Shiri (from the same film-making team), Tube goes nowhere, lacking a clear sense of storytelling direction. Viewers will finish the film with a sense of exhaustion, which really isn’t the emotion action movies should be aiming for.

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