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In Focus: The Spy: Undercover Operation

by Pierce Conran   08.29.2013
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Directed by LEE Seung-jun
Starring SEOL Kyung-gu, MOON So-ri, Daniel Henney, LA Mi-ran, GO Chang-seok, HAN Ye-ri
Release Date September 5
 
Following a difficult production cycle that saw it switch directors during filming in an overseas territory, the big-budget action comedy The Spy: Undercover Operation has made it to screens just in time for Chuseok, the biggest holiday in South Korea. Featuring impressive location photography, big stars and a blend of popular genre tropes, CJ Entertainment’s big screen spectacle is hoping to capitalize on the holiday season with a story that is high on the action quotient but also focuses on the modern Korean family, during a time when most Koreans return to their homestead.
 
The Spy: Undercover Operation
began as a project called Mister K that was helmed by Nowhere to Hide (1999) and Duelist (2005) cineaste LEE Myung-se. However, a difference of opinions saw the filmmaker exit the project in the midst of location production in Thailand. Production house JK Film was fortunate enough to be able to swiftly find a replacement in the form of LEE Seung-jun, an assistant director on Haeundae (2009) and Quick (2011) who was both familiar with the project, as he was involved with its pre-production, and also ready to make the jump to the director’s chair as he was getting ready to make his debut with another project.
 
Chul-soo (SEOL Kyung-gu) is Korea’s top secret agent and when a plot is revealed that threatens the entire country, he goes to Thailand. His flight attendant wife Young-hee (MOON So-ri), who doesn’t know his true identity, thinks he’s going to Busan. However, work also brings her to Bangkok and there she meets the dashing Ryan (Daniel Henney). Unbeknownst to Young-hee, Chul-soo has his eye on her but also on Ryan, who seems to be harboring another agenda.
 
Though it takes place in a theater of international espionage intrigue, The Spy: Undercover Operation is designed to be a very relatable experience for Korean viewers. A busy middle-aged couple seeking to conceive their first child is a very familiar concept for local viewers. The work environment of the Korean espionage agency is also something that will strike a chord with spectators. Nevertheless, these local elements are blended with high-grade thriller and action elements and operate at a global level, bolstered by the international flavor afforded by the location shooting in Thailand and the presence of foreign cast members and Korean-American star Daniel Henney.
 
By Pierce Conran

 

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