The story is simple and deliberately channels popular Korean exports of the 'Asia Extreme' variety. It features a revenge plotline, a very violent and corrupt detective, and illegal organ donors. Kim Seung-woo plays Detective Han Jong-sik, the corrupt investigator who has framed people for crimes to further his own ends. One of these victims exacted his revenge by killing his wife and injuring his daughter (Kim Sae-ron), who is now in desperate need of a new heart. In order to pay for his daughter’s condition, he goes on the take for some gangsters. Meanwhile another innocent man, Na Sang-man (Son Byeong-ho), that he put away from murder, is released, but not before his daughter dies and his wife winds up in a coma. Just like this year’s Heartbeat, it turns out that Na’s wife, who is considered clinically dead, is the only heart transplant available that could save Han’s daughter.
|Kim Sae-ron, in need of a heart|
Kim Seung-woo, who is known mostly for starring in lesser Korean films like Spring Breeze (2003) and The Unbearable Lightness of Dating (2006) and has recently taken co-starring roles in more significant works like the K-Drama Iris (2009) and John H. Lee’s war epic 71: Into the Fire (2010), works best in measured, stoic parts, playing military or law enforcement figures. In I Am a Dad, he hams it up as an investigator prone to excessive bouts of violence. Kim plays Detective Han with a straight face, his portrayal of Detective Han is humorless and unironic. Normally I would take issue with a performance such as this one but given my expectations, which I have already outlined, it fits quite well with the style of the film.
|Son Byeong-ho as the innocent family man|
Im Ha-ryong, as the over-the-hill Detective Kim, is the standout performance, an affable. He is a positive presence on screen, it is unfortunate that some of the lines he is fed do not do him justice. Im has toiled away in minor roles in major films for years, such as Arahan (2003), Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005), Insadong Scandal (2009), and Good Morning President (2009) and is familiar to most who have an even limited exposure to Korean cinema.
|Kim Seung-woo as Detective Han|
The final sequences are a bit of a departure from what is an otherwise standard and unstylized narrative. I’m not quite sure they worked but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. The filmmakers took a little poetic license and were more florid in their mise-en-scene. Despite all its flaws I Am a Dad is never less than watchable and as long as you don’t expect much from it, it amounts to a pleasant enough way to distract oneself for 100 minutes.
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