A couple of days late is better than never, right? Anyway, I’ve been wanting to check out Big Bang’s T.O.P in an acting role for ages. Feeling like something of the spy-action genre, Commitment (2013) was what I reached for.
What’s it about?
After his father betrayed North Korea, Ri Myung Hoon (T.O.P) and his younger sister Ri Hye In (Kim You Jung) are imprisoned in a forced labour camp. Inside the camp, Myung Hoon is approached by officer Moon Sang Chul (Cho Seong Ha) and offered a way out; if he becomes a spy for North Korea, he and his sister can be freed from the camp. Myung Hoon agrees, and after two years of training he is sent to Seoul where he poses as a high-school student, meeting outcast Lee Hye In (Han Ye Ri) at his school, who shares the same name as his sister. His mission is to find and kill whoever is assassinating North Korean spies in Seoul, but he must tread a careful road between his concern for his sister’s safety, his new found friendship with Hye In, Cha Jung Min (Yoon Je Moon), a South Korean investigator of the murders, and power struggles in the North.
The action aspects of this movie are done really well. In particular, the fight scenes are amazing! I loved the choreography of all the fights, especially the big one between Myung Hoon and the assassin. The fights show how the characters can really utilise what’s available in their environment to defend themselves, making for some very interesting (and brutal) fights. Given that the characters are meant to be secret agents or at least highly skilled fighters, it makes sense, and adds a good sense of realism. As T.O.P did his own stunts, I was really impressed with just how much of a handle he had on them!
I also think T.O.P did a really good job portraying Myung Hoon. It’s obvious that Myung Hoon is an emotionally complex character; he’s got a protective streak over a lot of other characters, but he’s been trained to be a cold-blooded killer, but he’s still only really a kid that’s caught up in a web much bigger than he is, and has a certain sense of innocence about him. I know a few others have complained that T.O.P played the character too stoic, but I think he’s got all the emotion pouring from his eyes when he acts. T.O.P’s always had puppy-dog eyes, and he knows how to utilise them; you can really see Myung Hoon’s pain and confusion as the movie unfolds.
Putting aside that (then) 26 year old T.O.P is playing a 19 year old high-school student, there were other things in this movie that were lacking. For movie with an obvious focus on desperation and suffering, it just wasn’t as emotionally engaging as I’d expect. Sure, I felt for Myung Hoon, but I wasn’t shedding tears for him. I think that, as a whole, the movie was just a tad on the safely predictable side. From quite early on the movie, it becomes obvious how the story’s going to end; it’s the same thing I’ve seen countless of times in western spy movies. There was also an obvious avoidance of deep North/South issues, which could have easily been explored through Myung Hoon and his interactions with Sang Chul (representing North Korea) and Jung Min (representing South Korea). Even by the end of the movie, you didn’t know how he felt towards either country. I also think they could have utilised (friend) Hye In’s character more, as she represented the closest thing Myung Hoon could get to a normal life. There are little hints of Myung Hoon trying to understand both her, and her life, throughout the movie, but it’s still a source of wasted potential.
Story: 6.5/10. Solid, good action, but just too predictable and lacking strong emotional engagement.
Characters: 6/10. Myung Hoon and (friend) Hye In are the most interesting characters, but the movie doesn’t do much with them.
Commitment is a fairly solid action movie. It features a good cast and some awesome action scenes. However, it could have been much more if the writers were prepared to take it a step further. Solid, but not memorable. Not a bad watch if you like the genre or are a T.O.P fan. Overall, I give it a 6/10.