A gangster pic told through a shifting series of perspectives and fractured timelines.
Debutante writer-director Thomas Dixon’s “The Korean” is a gangster pic told through a shifting series of perspectives and fractured timelines, and it should serve to illustrate a key storytelling principle to fellow aspiring “Reservoir Dogs” imitators: Even in a nontraditionally structured narrative, there should still be a source of dramatic tension beyond “who is this person?” and “why are they doing that?” Pic, which opened Feb. 12 in limited release, is at times impressively shot despite a miniscule budget, but its heavy affectations and maladroit scripting make it a tough slog, and commercial prospects look dreary.
Beginning with the apparent assassination of stone-faced Korean gangster Lee (Josiah D. Lee, failing to meet even the most charitable standards of bad-assery), the pic proceeds to leap through time anarchically as he pursues an assortment of gangsters and a pro forma love interest, turning what would have been a bare-bones double-cross narrative into an impenetrable fog. Attempts to fill time through Tarantinoesque violent comedy and tough-guy bluster fall flat, and some subtitled Italian mafiosi appear to have been reading their lines phonetically from cue cards. Individual shot compositions are often inventive, however.