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.
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.
In Korean with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Playing: CGV Cinema, Los Angeles; CGV Buena Park, Buena Park