(Movie Review) ‘Carter,’ a high-octane action thriller that feels like a video game


SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) — Korean filmmaker Jung Byung-gil’s female assassin movie, “The Villainess” (2017), opens with a stunning motorcycle fight scene entirely shot from a first person point-of-view.

The opening sequence is not composed of short frame cuts, but of unthinkable single-take camera work that puts viewers at the center of the violence. It is said to have inspired the wild bike chase in “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum” (2019).

In his upcoming action thriller “Carter,” a Netflix Korean original, director Jung again captures viewers’ eyes with an outstanding 20-minute opener of intense, bloody action filled with astounding hand-to-hand combat and shootouts.

A man, played by Joo Won, wakes up in a humble hotel room in Seoul where he is threatened by an armed group of foreign men who order him to tell them the whereabouts of Dr. Jung Byung-ho. But the man has lost his memory, not knowing who he is or where he is, let alone who Dr. Jung is.

With a cross-shaped scar on the back of his head, he hears a voice inside his ear, telling him that his name is Carter and he needs to follow instructions if he wants to live.

Following the voice’s order, Carter moves to a nearby public bath, where a hundred faceless people are waiting to kill him. He survives the bloodshed through his instincts to kill and better-than-expected fighting skills.

His bloody dogfight continues in a motorcycle, bus and van as he is bombarded with armed agents from the CIA and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service.

His mysterious mission comes as a deadly pandemic, originating from the demilitarized zone along the inter-Korean border, has swept the United States and North Korea.

As the two Koreas join hands in developing an antidote for the virus, Dr. Jung leads the project based on an antibody from his daughter. But the girl went missing on her way to a lab in northern North Korea.

Carter is assigned to rescue the girl and bring her to the lab safely.

In “Carter,” director Jung showcases his ability and competence as an “action master” in Korean cinema, well proved by “The Villainess” and “Confession of Murder” (2012), to creatively weave breath-taking action sequences of physical combat, gun fights and large-scale helicopter stunts.

It creates the sensation that viewers are in a first-person shooter video game with Carter.

But the melodrama in the latter part of the movie, when the true story of Carter’s mission is revealed, makes the majority of the parts, including the fast-paced action scenes, almost tiring.

“Carter” will be available on Netflix at 4 p.m. Friday.



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