If it's crap ... We'll tell you
After a bloody battle between Joseon and Ching forces in Manchuria only three soldiers from Joseon survive. They take refuge in an abandoned inn. Soon it is clear that they have as much to fear from each other as from the Ching forces.
I was really excited for this film... written and directed by Park Hoon-jung who'd written "I Saw the Devil" (one of my favorite movies from last year.) But too my surprise, it's not at all an action film... not that I have a problem with that, I love a nice suspense film, the billing is just somewhat misleading. In reality, The Showdown is more like "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" if there was no treasure and instead everyone was just an egotistical douche-bag. The story opens up on a bloody battle between the Joseon and the Ching, with the Joseon getting their asses handed to them. As a blizzard sets in, the only ones who are left alive are two friends who are high ranking generals. Lee Hyun-myung (Park Hee-soon) has been shot in the leg, and is severely weakened, and Jang Do-young (Jin Ku) tries to drag him to shelter. Close to death Jang admits to his friend that he'd betrayed Lee's father, and it was his fault he was executed as a traitor. Somehow, they survive the blizzard and make it to a small shack where a deserter from their battle, Du Soo (Ko Chang-Seok,) is hiding. The movie then builds tension slowly... at first Du Soo is worried he'll be executed for deserting, then when Lee finally decides to revenge himself on Jang they both try to play him like a pawn to help kill the other. Sounds thrilling? Well it should be, but it's not. The tension is built so sloppily throughout the film (which feels like a bottle episode of some K-Drama) that there's no question where it will end, or what motivations are. There are a couple twists that I found a little interesting during the many many flashback sequences, but for the most part I was extraordinarily bored through the entire movie. There isn't really a protagonist... all the characters are assholes... except maybe Du Soo, but he's a throw away character, he might as well not be there. There's no reason (especially near the end of the film when the blizzard dies down) why he shouldn't just get the fuck out of there. None of this is his problem. There's no sort of mounting paranoia that this sort of film really needs to work. All of the characters know who wants to kill who and why, so instead of mounting suspense you're basically just waiting for the situation to wrap up. And maybe at least it will do so in a spectacular fight sequence.
It does not. The fight sequences are short and bloody and decidedly unspectacular. They're heavily edited and require no physical skill or martial arts expertise. They're competent film-making, but not memorable action.
This is one of those films that was such a pain to watch I almost didn't finish it. I was unapologetically bored throughout the movie, and just so happy when it was finally over. The cinematography is pretty good I guess and there was one little twist at the end that I kinda liked, but it doesn't justify sitting through this thing.
Upcoming requests include Lone Wolf and Cub Series, Beast Cops, Seven Swords, Battle of Wits, Breaking News, Tae Guk GI, and Assembly