The ever-loveable Dong-seok Ma (“Champion“, “The Outlaws“) is Dong-Chul, a man with a shady past who now delivers fish around the local market. But this isn’t enough for the big man, he’s always looking for the next big thing, the one that’s going to make him a ton of money.
He doesn’t have much money and is owed a lot by the wanna-be gangster who runs the fish market, but always fails to pay him whenever he asks.
For the next big thing, his brother informs him of a deal involving King Crab, he pays a lot of money, and has all the King Crab he can ever wish for, he just has to wait three-months for the ship to arrive carrying all this Crabby goodness. It seems like this is a con and his wife/girlfriend Ji-soo, Ji-Hyo Song (“New World”, “A Frozen Flower”), agrees when she finds out.
Meanwhile, Ki-Tae, Seong-oh Kim (“The Man From Nowhere”, “Secret Garden (TV)”), is busy buying up women from across the city to sell on the black market when he runs into Ji-soo and takes a liking to her, and what he likes, he takes.
In exchange for Ji-soo, he provides Dong-Chul with a whole pile of cash. But Dong-Chul ain’t that type of guy and Ki-Tae has definitely picked the wrong man to mess with.
If writer/director Kim Min-Ho had put Dong-seok Ma in a black leather jacket, Unstoppable could quite easily be the Korean Taken. In fact, regardless of the jacket, it pretty much is, along with elements of Oldboy thrown in (a nice fight scene in a corridor) for good measure.
The story is fairly simple and can get eye-rollingly cliched at times, but, this is a lot of fun. It’s funny, as Dong-Chul is helped on his ‘quest’ by Min-jae Kim (“The Good The Bad And The Weird”, “The Beauty Inside”) and Ji-hwan Park (“Man In Love”, “Way Back Home”) as two fairly inept side-kicks, and it’s also wonderfully brutal as Dong-seok Ma flexes his muscles and unleashes his giant fists against the bad-guys.
Kim Min-Ho handles the direction wonderfully, allowing us full view of the fight scenes, no need for close-up, shaky-cam crap here, the action does the talking and, although it can fall-down to clichés a few times, they are well choregraphed and well shot.
Seong-oh Kim is perfect as the bad-guy. He’s malevolent with a wicked laugh, prone to fits of violence but always wants to keep looking his best with his very shiny shoes.
The bad guys come and go, though when Dong-Chul finds Ki-Tae’s hideout he must go up against a fighter who, I apologise in advance for not knowing his name, but he is astonishing. He leaps in the air and spins around, roundhouse kicking as he goes, like Ryu in Streetfighter. It is a fantastic fight, it’s a shame it doesn’t go on for longer.
Prior to this, just as Dong-Chul is getting angry and intent on getting his wife back at all costs, he visits the fish market owner for his money. After dispatching a few of his goons, one big fella stands up, flexing his muscles. What happens next is unexpected but very funny.
Unstoppable isn’t Dong-seok Ma at his best, but it’s a decent entry in his back catalogue. In the absence of Jackie Chan managing to put anything decent together over the years, Dong-seok Ma is quickly establishing himself as my new favourite.
It hasn’t taken long (well, it kind of has) for Hollywood to notice either as Dong-seok Ma has been cast alongside Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden in the forthcoming Marvel movie, The Eternals, set for release in 2020. Let’s hope they do a better job then they’ve done with previous Asian superstars.