Friday, March 20, 2020

“Assassination” 2015 Korean historical movie, synopsis (no spoilers)

(Click the picture above to view or download a much bigger copy.)

From Wikipedia: “Assassination” is a 2015 South Korean espionage action film co-written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon and starring Korean superstar Jun Ji-hyun (“Gianna Jun”) in a dual role.

As of August 26, 2015, it has grossed a total of US$77 million from 11.79 million admissions, making it the highest-grossing Korean film of 2015 as well as the eighth-all-time-highest-grossing film in Korean cinema history.

This movie won numerous awards: 36th Blue Dragon Film Awards (Best Film, Best Actress, Best Costume Design); 21st Chunsa Film Art Awards (Best Director); 11th Max Movie Awards (Best Actress); and the 35th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards (Best Cinematography, Art Direction).

With a budget of US $16 million, “Assassination” filmed in both Shanghai and Seoul for five months. A special set of 13,500 square meters was created in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, to recreate the Seosomun Street in Gyeongseong. The rest of the filming took place at the Shanghai set in Chedun, which is 27 times the size of the Hapcheon set in South Gyeongsang Province.

How I made this synopsis spoiler-free

I divided the movie into seven parts; Part 5 is the halfway point of the movie, with Part 6 and Part 7 comprising the last 45 minutes of the movie. So, you can just read Part 1 to Part 4 to know what the movie is all about. (In Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7, I still did not include all the twists and turns of the plot, so they are also spoiler-free.)

Part 1 (from start to 7:05)

1911 ...

Kang In Gook is a Korean businessman who wants to enrich himself by collaborating with the Japanese colonial government. During an assassination attempt by a freedom fighter named Jin Seok Yeom, he saves the life of the colonial governor.

Kang In Gook’s wife has been secretly helping the freedom fighters; as a cover for Jin Seok Yeom’s escape, she leaves their home, bringing along her twin baby daughters. But Kang In Gook sends his men after his wife and orders them to bring back his twins.

Part 2 (from 7:06 to 19:35)

1933 ...

The Korean Provisional Government orders Jin Seok Yeom to bring to Shanghai a trio of misfits — Ahn Ok Yun (a sniper), Hwang Deoksam (explosives expert), and Chu Sang-ok (firearms expert aka “Big Gun”) — who are all locked up in Manchuria. In Shanghai, one of the leaders named Kim Won Bang orders the trio to go to Gyeongseong (modern-day Seoul) and assassinate Kang In Gook and General Mamoru Kawaguchi of the Japanese colonial forces.

Part 3 (from 19:36 to 1:02:33)

Ok Yun and her comrades arrive in Gyeongseong where they’re given shelter by a night club owner. But unknown to them, Jin Seok Yeom has hired a notorious hit man known as “Hawaii Pistol” to kill them.

With his identity as a traitor now revealed, Jin Seok Yeom decides to go to Gyeongseong. Meanwhile, on their way to Gyeongseong, Hawaii Pistol and his sidekick meet Captain Kawaguchi — the son of General Mamoru Kawaguchi and the fiancé of Kang In Gook’s daughter, Mitsuko.

Ok Yun decides to ambush Kang In Gook and General Mamoru Kawaguchi on a gasoline station. But while preparing for their assassination attempt, Chu Sang-ok and Hwang Deoksam are spotted by Hawaii Pistol and his sidekick.

Part 4 (from 1:02:34 to 1:11:16)

Despite Chu Sang-ok’s disappearance, Ok Yun decides to continue with their plans.

Upon reaching Gyeongseong, Jin Seok Yeom immediately warns General Mamoru Kawaguchi about the threat to his life; Kang In Gook thus suggests to Captain Kawaguchi a change in their travel plans.

During the shootout with the Japanese soldiers, Ok Yun comes face to face with her twin sister Mitsuko.

Part 5 (from 1:11:17 to 1:27:28)

Ok Yun and Hawaii Pistol escape from the Japanese soldiers escorting them to the police headquarters. Later, after having Ok Yun treated by a doctor, Hawaii Pistol and his sidekick leave her apartment. On the street, however, as they’re being accosted by Japanese soldiers, they meet Captain Kawaguchi again.

Mitsuko realizes that the woman she saw during the shootout is none other than her twin sister. She finds Ok Yun’s apartment and pleads with her to stop working for the freedom fighters and to live with her and their father.

As Mitsuko and Ok Yun are talking, however, their father Kang In Gook arrives, together with Jin Seok Yeom and some Japanese soldiers.

Part 6 (from 1:27:29 to 1:47:03)

Ok Yun assumes Mitsuko’s identity and plans to kill Kang In Gook and General Kawaguchi during the wedding.

Chu Sang-ok returns to the nightclub and asks the owner to get him some guns and explosives. Later, he infiltrates the wedding’s venue.

During the wedding, after recognizing Hawaii Pistol, Jin Seok Yeom orders him arrested and quietly brought out of the venue.

Ok Yun has hidden a gun in her bouquet, and as the officiating minister calls for the parents of the bride and groom, she aims her gun at Kang In Gook and General Mamoru Kawaguchi.

Part 7 (from 1:47:04 to the end)

Hawaii Pistol and his sidekick take Ok Yun (aka Mitsuko) and Captain Kawaguchi into the nightclub. But Jin Seok Yeom and the Japanese soldiers surround the nightclub.

Hawaii Pistol tells Ok Yun to continue pretending to be Mitsuko so that she can escape. Later, he and his sidekick escape through the sewers.

1949 ...

Jin Seok Yeom stands trial for being a Japanese collaborator. After the trial, as he goes through the public market, he sees Mitsuko and follows her into an isolated street.

Lessons in photography from “Assassination”

Shooting against the light (contra luz, contre jour)
Dutch angle or Dutch tilt
Foreground and background blur
Low angle shot, Rule of Odds
Line of direction, Rule of Odds
Out of focus foreground element as partial frame
Establishing shot
High angle shot
Lead room, nose room, looking space
Natural frames
Low angle shot
Natural frames, local frames
Linear perspective
High angle shot
Low angle shot, balance and symmetry

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