The Red Tea Detox

Submit-Korean Warfare Seoul is the setting for a claustrophobic, politically charged homicide thriller.

Artists, agitators and intellectuals are put by way of the ringer in “The 12th Suspect,” a crisply executed mystery-thriller a few navy detective investigating the homicide of a civilian within the speedy aftermath of the Korean Warfare. Set nearly completely in a Seoul teahouse the place the bohemian ambiance is violently disrupted by the bloodhound’s ever-widening line of questioning, this very nicely carried out chamber piece is expertly managed by writer-director Ko Myoung-sung. A gripping whodunit with acidic commentary on darkish forces at play throughout the formation of recent South Korea, “Suspect” has the standard to draw upscale viewers when launched in native cinemas later this 12 months, following its world premiere as closing evening attraction at BiFan. Ko’s simply accessible drama is nicely definitely worth the consideration of competition programmers.

Very similar to the methodology of its protagonist, “The 12th Suspect” lulls viewers into a way of calm and order earlier than going for the jugular. As we enter the shabby Oriental Teahouse in Seoul’s Myeong-dong district, all of the discuss is about noble sacrifices made by artists and “discovering bliss in a cup of espresso.” For 12 well-spent minutes, the digital camera glides across the institution whereas textual content identifies everybody by identify and occupation.

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Dialog turns from existentialism to homicide when boozy painter Woo Byeong-hong (Jeong Ji-sun) arrives with information that the physique of poet and teahouse common Baek Doo-hwan (Nam Seong-jin) has been discovered at Mount Namsan, a well-liked peak in central Seoul. In accordance with Woo, the lifeless man was a loser and never value lamenting. Woo’s sentiments are echoed by Oh Hold-chul (Kim Ji-hun), a beefy poet who dismisses Baek as aloof and a nasty author.

Utilizing physique language, sideways glances and nervous eye contact between all eight patrons and the cafe’s married proprietors, Madam (Park Solar-young) and Noh Suk-hyon (Heo Music-tae), Ko’s cautious path establishes a robust air of rigidity and intrigue. Lightening the tone, albeit briefly, is the arrival of Grasp Sgt. Kim Ki-chae (Kim Sang-kyung), an officer within the South Korean military’s Particular Operations Unit.

Kim Sang-kyung, who made his identify because the methodical metropolis cop in Bong Joon-ho’s “Reminiscences of Homicide,” is totally compelling because the immaculately groomed investigator who initially looks like probably the most well mannered official you can ever meet. In dulcet tones, he assures everybody, together with outdated professor Shin Yoon-chi (Dong Bang-yu) and moody painters Lee Ki-seob (Kim Hui-sang) and Park In-seong (Kim Dong-young), he’s right here to make sure public security in these harmful post-war days. That’s till he bolts the doorways shut and two closely armed troopers present as much as help with inquiries.

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Kim’s intense grilling of suspects is neatly mixed with a number of perspective — “Rashomon”-style flashbacks that solid loads of thriller round Baek’s checkered previous and occasions resulting in his demise. The plot turns into much more engrossing on information that Baek didn’t die alone. Additionally killed at Mount Namsan was his rumored lover, Choi Yoo-jung (Han Ji-an), a free-thinking younger lady with the uncommon distinction in these days of getting attained a college diploma in Paris.

Ko’s screenplay ramps up properly when Kim reveals his hand and the teahouse turns into a sealed-off interrogation heart. The rationale he’s dealing with what should be a daily police matter is to flush out subversives, communists and anybody else perceived to be a safety risk or believed responsible of what Kim considers treason throughout the North’s occupation of Seoul throughout the battle. Kim’s hatred of “degenerate” artists and intellectuals and his opinions on what’s required to take care of an ordered society can simply be learn as a scathing critique of the numerous political and social upheavals in South Korea since 1953.

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Apart from the hanging purple gown worn by Madam, there’s barely a major coloration in sight. Virtually each character wears combos of brown, beige and white, making them mix into the drab décor of the Oriental Teahouse till picked out for questioning by Kim. The temper of mounting worry is accentuated by Park Jong-chol’s easy widescreen pictures, which begins with flat, nearly featureless lighting patterns and subtly shifts to extra sculptured, movie noir-ish settings as contributors start to grasp the difficulty they’re in. All different technical work is spot-on

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