Who doesn’t want to be a spy? A secret double life and all the perks that go along with the job, right? However, when it comes to Ryn-han’s (Kim Soo-hyun) character, being a spy doesn’t mean you have the glamorous life of James Bond. Instead, one lives the life of a brainless young man who helps an old lady run a convenience shop. Ryn- han is sent, by the North Korean secret military party, with a mission to a small town to spy on the locals. After a while he gains the trust of everyone around. He is fond of a young girl, becomes friends with the shop owner’s son and lives, more or less, a quiet life until he meets two other spies, one of whom, Hae-jin (Lee Hyun-woo), Ryn-han trained himself while in the North Korean military survival camp. Hae-jin poses as a high school student and Hae-rang (Park Ki-woong) disguises himself as a ‘wannabe’ rock star. Unaware of the situation between South and North, they fool around the town without raising any suspicions.
One day, due to the events of the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong, the government of South Korea strictly demands for North Korea to release a list of 30 spies’ names who are still active on South Korean soil. The boys finally receive an order with a deadly mission: to prevent the South Koreans from catching the spy elite, they all must commit suicide. Which of the young men will be able to take his own life?
The first 90 minutes of the film was ridiculously funny, with some primitive dialogue and weird acting, however, I laughed a lot. The last 40 minutes of Secretly, Greatly turned into a, kind of, Bruce Lee movie. Kicking, punching and wrestling were the highlights of that last forty minutes. I have to admit that the fight scenes were well shot, with limited usage of wire- work. The script written by Yun Hong-gi and Kim Bang-hyeon wasn’t spectacular. Ryn-han’s character was interestingly developed, however, there was not much of a story or character development when it came to Hae-jin and Hae-rang. The only thing that scared me in the film was Park Ki-woong’s dreadful orange hair.
Secretly, Greatly achieved great success in Korean cinema only, in my opinion, thanks to a huge teenage audience. The film director Jang Cheol-soo cast a few famous TV Drama actors, who all had a breakthrough in their career last year, hoping on gaining more viewers. Choe Sang-ho’s cinematography didn’t disappoint as well as the music by Jang Young-gyu and Dalparan. Kim Soo-hyun’s acting was good, it seems like this young man has potential. I wouldn’t mind to see him portraying a more serious character. Lee Hyun-woo and Park Ki-woong were okay. They didn’t really show off their acting talent in the film due to their limited time on screen. I saw Ki-woong in a few films before and I think he could do so much better than Secretly, Greatly.
There’s nothing more I could have written about the movie. It is one of those films that you will not be required to use your brain cells while watching. You will laugh a bit and you may even cry, but there is no way you will remember the film an hour after the screening. I can’t believe that Secretly, Greatly was directed by a man, whose debut was Bedevilled for which he received various film awards. I really want the director to come up with a better and more ambitious project next time.
Written by Maggie Gogler
This review was originally posted on November 18, 2013 on http://www.viewofthearts.com
All photos © Showbox