Yesterday (South Korea 2002)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/11/08
Cast: Kim Seung-Woo, Kim Yun-Jin, Kim Seon-Ah

Here's somewhat of a rarity - a Korean sci-fi thriller. The year is 2020 and a serial killer is on the loose. Captain Yun Suk (Kim Seung-Woo) leads the investigation, which also turns out to be related to the death of his son. The latest victim is the police commissioner, who is kidnapped while attending a lecture that his daughter Hisu (lovely Kim Yun-Jin from "Shiri" (1999) ) is giving. Against Yun's wishes, Hisu gets involved in the investigation as she is both a witness and an expert in forensic profiling. Also assisting Yun is tough-as-nails May (awesome Kim Seon-Ah from "She's On Duty" (2005) ), who handles all of the violent operations. It turns out that Yun, Hisu, and the killer are all intimately tied together, and as the body count rises, more pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Yun and Hisu finally triumph in the end, but at the cost of all their friends.

"Yesterday" is a delightfully dreary film with not a single ounce of joy or happiness. The characters are forever locked in despair and frustration over the futility of their own lives, and nearly all of the dialog is delivered in melancholic monotone. The musical score is quite nice and helps maintain the somber mood. The film looks beautiful and the muted colors are very pretty. However, while the film definitely looks expertly shot, budget limitations become apparent when the camera pulls back to wider views. The visual effects are subtle, but effective in presenting a futuristic world not far off from our own. The film also boasts several nicely staged action set pieces involving police gunfights and SWAT teams. While they are fun to watch, the pacing feels sluggish and they're sometimes confusing to follow. Overall the film's pacing seems a little slow, but it also serves to echo the despondency and helplessness of the characters. The acting is quite good and the characters' subtle frustrations translate nicely to the audience. Definitely a good thriller if you have the patience for it.