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Korean wrong-man thriller 'Golden Slumber' has the right stuff

Korean wrong-man thriller 'Golden Slumber' has the right stuff
Gang Dong-won in the Korean thriller "Golden Slumber." (CJ Entertainment)

The Korean thriller "Golden Slumber" is the rare chase picture as invested in its characters and setting as in its twists. Director Noh Dong-seok — working from a Kôtarô Isaka novel — fills the film with rich detail, helping this "innocent man, wrongly accused" story overcome its dogged conventionality.

Gang Dong-won stars as Kim Gun-woo, a delivery man who achieved viral fame across Korea after being caught on a security camera rescuing a pop star. Then a shadowy black ops organization — connected to a member of Kim's defunct rock band — takes advantage of his popularity, and frames him for a political assassination.

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Most of "Golden Slumber" apes the likes of "North by Northwest" and "The Fugitive," following the hero as he narrowly dodges capture, sometimes with the help of a mysterious benefactor (played by Kim Eui-sung). Noh, best-known for arty low-key dramas, excels at the movie's many action sequences.

But he's much better at character-building. It's easy to care about Kim's fate, given how well Gang and Noh define the character as a nice guy who's abandoned his ambitions, and is maybe too naive about how the world actually works.

"Golden Slumber" isn't as wide-eyed as its protagonist, though. The movie ultimately paints mass media cynicism as its real villain, noting how a sensationalist press and a gullible public allow amoral creeps to spread dangerous lies. And that's a valuable warning — even when embedded within some snappy entertainment.

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‘Golden Slumber’

In Korean with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Playing: CGV Cinema, Los Angeles; CGV Buena Park, Buena Park

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