The Bottom Line
A possible riveting nightmare fogged up by concessions to blockbuster conventions.
Toronto International Film Festival (Gala Presentations); also San Sebastian International Film Festival (Competition)
Kim Yoon-seok, Park Yoo-chun, Han Ye-ri, Moon Sung-keun
Bong Joon-ho produced and co-wrote first-time director Shim Sung-bo’s thriller about a fishing-boat crew’s descent into red mist after a botched human-trafficking operation
Quite a few recent Korean movies are obsessed with representing China as an external threat to security and order at home. There’s a Korean-Chinese mob wreaking havoc in Seoul in the high-octane thriller The Yellow Sea, for example, and The Thieves‘ über-villain is a Chinese underworld kingpin. With Haemoo, screenwriter-turned-director Shim Sung-bo subverts this long-running equation by revealing the possibilities of Koreans being in the wrong when people from the two cultures collide, as he adapts Kim Min-jung‘s play about the real-life incidence of a Korean fishing boat crew casting the bodies of 25 Chinese illegal immigrants aboard after a botched smuggling operation.