Review: ‘Crossing’

Detente in the Korean peninsula is set back 50 years by "Crossing," a richly lensed but politically black-and-white heart-tugger about refugees from the Nasty North en route to the Sympathetic South.

Detente in the Korean peninsula is set back 50 years by “Crossing,” a richly lensed but politically black-and-white heart-tugger about refugees from the Nasty North en route to the Sympathetic South. Old-style Cold War drama in modern tech garb, written by TV drama scribe Lee Yu-jin, could gain some local B.O. traction from lead thesp Cha In-pyo’s name on release June 26; offshore legs look wobbly.

Director Kim Tae-kyun is best known in the West for firecracker martial-arts actioner “Volcano High” (2001), but his helming here, though slick, is pretty standard. After three reels of poverty and quotidian misery, devoted dad Yeong-su (Cha), a one-time soccer star, slips across the border to find medicine in China for his dying wife, getting shuttled by people traffickers to a German embassy and ending up (counter to plan) in Seoul. Meanwhile, his son Jun (Shin Myeong-cheol) escapes a horrific labor camp and makes his way to Mongolia with other kids. Eschewing simple cuteness, Shin is good as the tyke, but Cha is less convincing as a North Korean. Christian subtext, involving a tiny Bible the uncomprehending Yeong-su carries, is especially squirm-worthy.

Crossing

South Korea

Production

A Vantage Holdings release of a Big House, Vantage Holdings presentation of a Camp B production. (International sales: Fine Cut, Seoul.) Produced by Patrick Che, Hong Ji-yong. Executive producers, Cheong Eui-seok, Kim Seon-yong, Jung Seung-gu, Jin Heui-mun. Directed by Kim Tae-kyun. Screenplay, Lee Yu-jin.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jeong Han-cheol; editor, Go Im-pyo; music, Kim Tae-seong; production designer, Kim Hyeon-ok; costume designer, Oh Sang-jin. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 17, 2008. Korean, Mandarin, Mongolian dialogue. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Cha In-pyo, Shin Myeong-cheol, Seo Yeong-hwa, Jeong In-gi.

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