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DVD Review: Tube (2003)

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As a change from creepy Korean horror, I watched a mainstream Korean blockbuster instead. Tube aims to emulate western action films like Speed, whilst not having nearly the same budget. It has a certain pedigree though, coming from the makers of cult thriller Shiri.

Having given up the police for a job in subway security, our hero (Seok-hun Kim) has a chance to settle an old score when a terrorist hijacks an underground train with the mayor and 1,000 passengers on board.

About five minutes into the film, you’ll have a good idea of what sort of film to expect here. The protagonists in the initial gun battle seem impervious to a whole army of police with machine guns. Top it off with a couple of gratuitous exploding car stunts and you’ll understand that the accent is on action, and light on logic. The ensuing subway train action relies more on blue-screen fakery and CGI rather than actual stunts, so please don’t expect expensive Die Hard 2 set pieces.

Having said that, the film’s strength is its cast – the characters are likeable and well acted. This being a mainstream action film, there is comedic relief on hand from Seok-hun Kim’s overly angry boss. Co-star Du-na Bae, as Kim’s fiesty love interest, is particularly memorable – she previously starred in the awesome Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. However, I’m not sure why she carries a guitar around for the entire film!

This isn’t a bloody martial arts thriller – there’s no gore – it’s more the sort of violence you’d expect from a disaster movie. That said, it still doesn’t pull its punches in the fight scenes, the impact is dramatic rather than visceral.

Basically, I’m trying to warn viewers who watch Asian action films for high-class stunts and excessive blood, and recommend this to those more interested in Korean mainstream cinema. It’s well-made fun and not to be taken too seriously. The characters are very real, the acting excellent and the plot keeps moving briskly along with twists around every corner.

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