If Ryoo Seung-wan’s Veteran had been around in the ‘80s, one can imagine Walter Hill at the helm and Nick Nolte tearing shit up as a no-nonsense cop in furious pursuit of a crim. Yes, this action-comedy, a blockbuster juggernaut in its home country of South Korea, is fairly old-hat material that’s unlikely to appear in any box office top tens if it were made in the West today.
It trades on star power and more specifically, a morally fuelled brand of storytelling that’s held significance for local audiences in light of certain recent events (i.e. the “nut rage” incident). As such, it’s easy to see the appeal of this movie, an entertaining, if overlong, and not particularly distinguished cop flick that pits struggling working class folk against the corrupt over-privileged.
Hwang Jeong-min is likeably scrappy as Do-cheol, a loose cannon detective in Seoul’s Metropolitan Police Agency out to take down Jo Tae-oh (the eminently face-punchable Yoo Ah-in), the kind of villain I’m growing increasingly wary of in their ease-to-hate: the oily, coke-snorting, sadistic spoilt brat.
A large portion of Veteran’s midsection is allocated to the devious, somewhat repetitive lengths in which Tae-oh and his evil corporate cronies go to cover up their asses, causing the pace to sag a little. But action junkies should be satiated by the pair of electrifying action sequences that book-end the film. Mixing up Jackie Chan-influenced stunts and Korean-style brawls, Jung Doo-hong’s exemplary prop-heavy fight choreography is sloppily brutal and wince-inducing.
Dog lovers beware: Veteran contains the most upsetting scene you’ll see all year.
‘Veteran’ Movie Times
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