Seoul Vibe is a new South Korean action film about a group of drivers who would get involved in a plan to take down a criminal organization. So does it worth watching?
Seoul Vibe Movie Review
Should Seoul Vibe, or 서울대작전 tells the story of a team of talented drivers becomes mired in the slush fund investigation of a powerful person on the day of the 1988 Seoul Olympics opening ceremony.
Now, this is a film that fully embraces the late 80s nostalgia with acid-washed jeans, and checkered vans, along with 80s hip hop mixed with street racing and some drifting cars. And, it has more of a feeling of Speed Racer than of the Fast and the Furious movies, or maybe even Baby Driver, but it’s even got some very small elements of Oceans Eleven or some other ensemble heist movie.
We follow a group of young people with sketchy backgrounds who are approached by a prosecutor who is looking to take down high-ranking government officials suspected of money laundering and corruption.
The premise is that the group has to become the delivery drivers for the corrupt leaders, picking up their packages and then delivering them to other places in order to launder the ill-gotten cash.
The actors are mostly charismatic, and despite a lot of goofiness throughout the movie, they put a smile on my face because they’re earnest and principled, even though they are entry-level criminals.
Yoo Ah-in, who you may recognize from Hashtag Alive, Burning, or even Hellbound, he’s the main star. He’s the leader of the group who is recruited to drive, and he is their main driver. He’s passionate in the performance and very easy to root for, especially with how much he cares for and then looks out for his friends.
And plus, he’s a thinker, which we see play out in many different avenues. He’s not just some mindless speed demon who is like cargo fast, I go fast, yay. No. He’s calculated and he takes risks, but he isn’t willing to just get his friends hurt in the process. But he also doesn’t sit around and whisper how it’s all about family.
I like a lot of the cinematography, especially with some of the car segments, but I really wish there would have been fewer cuts in the scenes to allow for a longer take.
And then because the central storyline focuses on these young people who are supposedly amazing drivers, there are sequences that completely contradict their supposed skill at driving.
Sometimes we see great maneuvering, and other times the techniques are very amateurish and timid. And also when there are driving sequences, the camera barely ever pulls back to let us watch the racing and or the stunts that are in context. May we be up close, which can be exciting, but it also reduces the acceleration by not seeing the larger scope of the actions.
It’s not all bad though. There were a couple of times where some drone footage was used very effectively to capture the intensity of a car chase. And also with the cinematography, the production puts a vignette on the screen. Now, that’s where the corners of the screen are darkened, which is then used to draw our eyes towards the central focus of the frame.
It’s supposed to be subtle and not really evident that it’s in use. And many films and shows employ this. But because of how subtle it is, unless you’re actually looking for it or paying attention to it, you won’t notice it even though it is working as intended. But in this movie, when the vignette is in use, it’s pretty noticeable for me and it became a bit distracting.
And, as you can probably imagine, there are also special effects that are in play during this. And some of them, they’re just terrible.
Many of the interior shots of people driving feel like they’re on a stage with the screen behind them. And obviously they’re not actually driving through the streets. And this happens even when characters are casually driving.
When the action kicks into high gear in the final act, there are record shots and a scene involving an airplane that looks completely like poorly executed CGI. This is somewhat forgivable because of the fun of the extended sequence, but the effects definitely stand out in their lack of quality.
And I like that, this is a mix of lighthearted and emotional drama, even though it is a bit over the top and spots, the emotion typically fits really well with the scenes and it flows naturally within the storyline.
So when our characters are in peril or they’re stressed, they’re very serious and focused. And then when they’re having fun with each other, they become much more fun-loving, playing around with each other, which then translates through the screen very easily. And they can also be goofy and at other times, very serious.
Sometimes these outbursts work, but there are times when the goofiness becomes annoying. I think the story was trying to infuse some comedy into the storyline, which, when used sparingly, can be amusing, but many times it just felt cringy.
Now, this movie is 2 hours and 20 minutes long and I did feel the time in the middle. There are portions that are not progressing the narrative forward in an effective manner.
And some of the slower scenes just simply allow for additional character development or maybe even investment, which I think is good. But at other times, I just wanted there to be faster conversations so that the story could pick back up and continue moving forward.
I think the impetus for the plot at its core is kind of uninteresting. But what got me invested is the characters and their dynamics. Some government officials stealing money and being caught up in corruption. It’s not revolutionary or novel, so thankfully, we get charismatic characters that do make the story engaging.
So overall, Seoul Vibe movie is a somewhat cheesy action movie that draws heavily on its aesthetics. They’re captured well and maintain a good consistency of the late 80s throughout, from the cars, the costumes and the music, the characters are fun to watch even when they’re overly goofy or dramatic.
And while the film may take longer than it needs to complete the story and then the special effects are not all that special. The general tone of the film is a good mix of lighthearted, fun, and heartfelt action.
This isn’t a drop everything to watch type of movie, but I think it could put a smile on your face as an entertaining and casual watch. There’s no sex or nudity, a lot of profanity, and some crazy violence.
I am going to give Seoul Vibe a 3/5.
So what’s something you’ve seen recently that has been awesome? I’ve seen mostly stuff this week, so I’d love to hear about something great to watch. Let me know in the comments below.
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