“Let’s be fucking annoying.”
Doing literally sick burnouts around the rich, corrupt and powerful is the name of the game in seoul vibe. This perfectly bratty line, uttered lazily from the backseat of a moving car by our protagonist, Dong-wook, comes at a time when the film literally drives government corruption up against the wall, to immensely satisfying effect.
Directed by Moon Hyun-sung, seoul vibe marks the latest Korean Netflix original action blockbuster following the ultra-violent and relentless Carter. Nevertheless, seoul vibe it’s much more fun; manages to raise the stakes of the brutality of the criminal network while balancing violence with goofy comedy, highly likable characters, and seriously impressive stunt driving.
Set in the run-up to the historic 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, the film centers on five friends who collectively call themselves the Sanggye-dong Supreme Team. Their base is within the city’s “Visible Areas Maintenance” redevelopment area, essentially a neighborhood destroyed by the government prior to the Olympics.
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Instantly you have a 11 oceanA lineup of stuntmen with their own quirks and tendencies, starting with unofficial leader and main driver Dong-wook, who dreams of coming to America to race at Daytona. Dong-wook played with steely composure and icy bratiness by Yoo Ah-in, who was in the critically acclaimed film. Fire. There’s Ella’s dramatic and rebellious sister Yoon-hee (Park Ju-hyun), a talented biker who capitalizes on society’s tendency to overlook her; she does an amazing job of consistently outshining her co-stars, even when she’s somewhat relegated to a “Drivers, start your engines!” role. There’s the hilariously confident sailor Bok-nam (Lee Kyoo-hyung) and the sweet crew MacGyver Joon-gi (the charming Ong Seong-wu), who together pull off some of the film’s most delightfully goofy comedic moments. And there’s DJ and mixtape aficionado John (the versatile Ko Kyung-pyo), whose only job seems to be to create soundtracks for the computer “to make you drive faster,” which seems grossly superfluous at first, but then turns out to be crucial.
Bok-nam, Dong-wook, Yoon-hee, and Joon-gi.
dotted with Pink Panther-high hats style and heavy disk wah-wah pedals suitable for montages, seoul vibe it sticks like velcro in neon hues to classic heist tropes. There are multiple heists in the film, all delivered with that classic montage edit. rick and morty so perfectly skewered, together with a batch by Run DMC on the soundtrack. But seoul vibe it eventually finds its own brand of character-driven comedy alongside authentic moments of drama, bringing these two genres together in scenes so opposite in emotional energy you could get whiplash.
The setting, like all great heist and undercover movies, has two sides that think they are playing the other. Threatened with jail time and promised US visas, Dong-wook and his team really can’t turn down an offer from the chief prosecutor (Jung Woong-in) to infiltrate a criminal network run by corrupt officials of the former Korean regime: the silent and awesome president. Kang (Moon So-ri) and the blunt and sadistic director Lee (Kim Sung-kyun). Sanggye-dong’s supreme team enjoys their new life rolling around in Hyundai Grandeurs and American imports like McDonalds and Air Jordan 3s, but as the major players up the stakes, Dong-wook begins to realize this sweet deal could be a bit poisonous.
Yoo Ah-in as Dong-wook
Of course, you came here to drive. This one is for fans of the early days of the fast and the furious, when all the tricks were drifting and not escaping from submarines, going into space and pushing torpedoes with bare hands. There is no US here; The biggest technological upgrade you’ll see is Joon-gi sitting in the backseat pumping water by hand to cool Dong-wook’s car engine during a race. But the movie includes multiple customization montages of Sanggye-dong’s Supreme Team playing with their own heist-friendly designs, which F&F fans will love it, along with some seriously impressive stunt sequences, the last of which wobbles at the end of theF&F drama.
seoul vibe it’s the kind of high-action, heist movie made to stuff your face with popcorn and scream audibly. Don’t think about it too much, just go inside.
seoul vibe(opens in a new tab) It is now streaming on Netflix.