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SHIRI (1999)

Director: Je-gyu Kang

Writers: Je-gyu Kang

Cast: Suk-kyu Han, Min-sik Choi, Yunjin Kim

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): R (for strong violence and some language)

Runtime: 125 minutes

Genres: Action/Crime/Drama

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

This is another interesting South Korean production. AKA: SWIRI ("Swhiri" approximates the closest proper Korean pronounciation of the title.)

SHIRI involves a strange, convoluted plot to re-unite the two Koreas. Highly trained members of the North Korean 8th Special Forces unit hijack a shipment of a volatile new liquid explosive and threaten to blow up large portions of Seoul, Korea if the two countries are not re-united, under the terms of the Special Forces unit, of course.

Prior to this, the same Special Forces unit slipped their best assassin, a female, into Seoul. After a few killings, she has been dormant for over a year.

Ryu and Lee, special agents of the South Korean intelligence service, are tasked with tracking down the terrorists and recover the CTX liquid explosive. As things heat up, Hee, the female sniper/assassin resurfaces.

There is plenty of action, killings, and blood. For the most part, the stunts are well choreographed and filmed with an eye towards excitement.

There are a few plot sticking points, most of which can be excused. It is entertainment, after all, not a documentary. Neither side can shoot very well, if one considers the amount of bullets sprayed to the number of targets actually hit. Granted, there is a lot of breaking glass from bullet hits... Astute viewers will wonder just how great a sniper Hee really is when they see her in action, but that will be explained later in the film's storyline.

One other thing to consider if you are not familiar with watching Asian films. The Asian audience expects their films to be long -- about 2 hours. What we Westerners consider filler or padding is expected by the Asian audience. There is a good deal of "talk" among the main characters, some romance, politics, etc. but don't worry, the pace will pick up again and there will be plenty of action and blood and the body count will keep soaring.

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