×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Time Renegades’

South Korean romantic fantasy-thriller hits the mark despite some minor bumps.

With:
Jo Jung-suk, Lim Soo-jung, Lee Jun-uk, Jung Jin-young, Lee Min-ho, Jeon Shin-hwan, On Ju-wan, Lee Ki-woo. (Korean dialogue)
Release Date:
Apr 15, 2016

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5597408

A high-concept romantic thriller about a cop from 2015 and a teacher from 1983 who connect through dreams and race to save the lives of the women they love, “Time Renegades” has the emotional heft to keep viewers engaged even when its elaborately wired plot suffers the odd short circuit. This pacy and highly imaginative item directed by Korean hitmaker Kwak Jae-yong (“My Sassy Girl,” “Windstruck”) bounced out brightly on April 13 with 200,000 admissions in its first two days of domestic trading. Minus the heavy melodrama of typical Korean love stories aimed squarely at the local market, “Renegades” stands a good chance of attracting auds in a concurrent North American release.

Back on home turf after helming Chinese romcom hit “Meet Miss Anxiety,” Kwak’s first foray into thriller territory sets off at full-speed with exciting parallel action taking place on Dec. 31, 2014, and the same date in 1982. During New Year’s Eve celebrations at Bosingak Belfry in Seoul, 2014 rookie detective Geon-woo (Lee Jun-uk) and 1982 high school music teacher Ji-hwan (Jo Jung-suk) suffer life-threatening injuries. When all hope on respective ER surgery tables seems lost, a momentary power blackout brings both men back from the brink.

That sequence is the first of many exhibitions of razor-sharp editing and top-shelf visual effects seamlessly uniting past and present. As a side-effect of these two near-death experiences separated by 32 years, both men are able to see directly into each others lives via vivid dreams.

Before letting loose with thriller elements, the screenplay carefully establishes a strong emotional foundation: Ji-hwan has just proposed to long-time girlfriend Yoon-jung (Lim Soo-jung), a kind-hearted, deep-thinking science teacher employed at the same high school. Excellent chemistry between the well-paired performers gives the feeling of a match made in heaven.

Meanwhile in 2015, Geon-woo has become attracted to So-eun (also Lim Soo-jung), a spunky and spirited type who’s a dead-ringer for Yoon-jung and also a high school teacher. Early puzzle-box pieces fall neatly into place when a combination of dream exchanges and Geon-woo’s police work reveals Yoon-jung was murdered on a fast-approaching date in 1983.

With basics thus well-covered, the film flicks the high-tempo switch and introduces a gallery of intriguing supporting characters, just about all of whom could potentially be guilty of heinous crimes in the past or about to commit them in the near-future. In 2014, there’s Geon-woo’s sidekick Tae-su (Lee Ki-woo) and their newly-appointed commander, Lt. Kang (Jung Jin-young), a stony-faced customer whose wife was murdered several years ago. Ji-hwan’s world is rife with suspects including unruly student Seung-beoum (Lee Min-ho), petty thief Hyung-chul (Jung Woong-in) and a shifty, unnamed biology teacher (Jeon Shin-hwan) whose lascivious eye is firmly trained on Yoon-jung.

Kwak keeps suspense and excitement levels high as the dream-linked duo’s efforts to prevent tragedy in 1983 inadvertently places 2014 lookalike So-eun in grave danger. While there are a few minor “huh?” moments when consequences of altering the past begin to mount up in the present, screenwriters Jo and Kee make sure the film’s internal logic remains intact when it really matters.

Aesthetically speaking, slick lensing by Lee Sung-jae lends a soft and warm tone to the 1983 romance segments, and a gritty, lived-in look to the more recent detective thriller sections. Production designer Lee Yo-han (“Sunny”) and costumer Jang ju-hee clearly had a ball fitting out the 1983 world with a fabulous selection of retro furniture and fashions. Performances are tops right down to bit parts. The traditional orchestral score by Kim Jin-sung lays the strings on a little too thick at times; otherwise it’s just fine. All other technical work is on the money.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: ‘Time Renegades’

Reviewed online, Adelaide, April 14, 2016. Running time: 108 MIN. (Original title: “Siganitalja”)  

Production: (South Korea) A CJ Entertainment (in South Korea)/CJ Entertainment USA (in U.S.) release of a CJ Entertainment, Sang Sang Film production. (International sales: CJ Entertainment, Seoul.) Produced by Bang Ok-kyung. Executive producer, Jeong Tae-sung. Co-producers, Ahn Sang Hoon, Lee Jin-eun. Co-executive producer, Michelle Kwon.

Crew: Directed by Kwak Jae-yong. Screenplay, Ko Jeong-un, Lee Sang-hyun. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Lee Sung-jae; editor, Shin Min-kyung; music, Kim Jin-sung; production designer, Lee Yo-han; costume designer, Jang ju-hee; sound (Dolby), Han Chul-hee; visual effects supervisor, Baek Sang-hoon; visual effects, Plux Magnon Studio.

With: Jo Jung-suk, Lim Soo-jung, Lee Jun-uk, Jung Jin-young, Lee Min-ho, Jeon Shin-hwan, On Ju-wan, Lee Ki-woo. (Korean dialogue)

More Film

  • iHuman

    Cinephil Acquires AI-Themed Political Thriller Documentary 'iHuman' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Tel Aviv-based Cinephil has acquired worldwide rights to Tonje Hessen Schei’s (“Drone”) “iHuman,” a political thriller documentary about artificial intelligence, power and social control. U.S.-based sales agent ro*co films is representing North America on the film which will have its world premiere in the Frontlight section of Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival. “iHuman” follows the [...]

  • 'Feast of the Seven Fishes' Review:

    Film Review: 'Feast of the Seven Fishes'

    Early on in “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” two characters debate the optimal way to decorate a house for Christmas. One favors an “understated” approach, with white lights and little more; the other argues that the holidays are no time for subtlety, advocating green, red and gold sparkle as far as the semi-blinded eye can [...]

  • Queen & Slim

    AFI Fest Film Review: 'Queen & Slim'

    Going to the movies can feel a lot like agreeing to a blind date: It’s normal to feel a little wary — but also a bit excited — at the potential before agreeing to spend two hours with characters you don’t know. If the film is any good, it wins you over early on, enough [...]

  • Steven Spielberg Branko Lustig

    'He Left Me Speechless': Steven Spielberg Remembers Branko Lustig

    Steven Spielberg has offered a touching remembrance of Branko Lustig, the Holocaust survivor who produced “Schindler’s List” with Spielberg and Gerald Molen and died Thursday in Croatia. “I was heartbroken to hear of Branko’s passing and my thoughts are with his family and friends,” Spielberg said. “When we first met to discuss ‘Schindler’s List,’ he [...]

  • Dylan Brosnan and Paris BrosnanGolden Globe

    Pierce Brosnan’s Sons Paris and Dylan Brosnan Named 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors

    Pierce Brosnan’s two youngest sons, Paris and Dylan Brosnan, have been named as the 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced on Thursday evening. Paris and Dylan are also the sons of journalist and author Keely Shaye Smith. The ambassador(s), a title that typically goes to the son or daughter of a [...]

  • Joaquin Phoenix'Joker' film premiere, Arrivals, 57th

    Film News Roundup: Joaquin Phoenix Honored by Palm Springs Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Joaquin Phoenix is honored for “Joker”; Legion M backs Joe Manganiello’s “Archenemy”; sales have launched on “Lev Yashin: The Dream Goalkeeper”; Warner Bros. shuffles execs and Universal launches a first-of-its-kind animation writing program. HONOR Joaquin Phoenix has been selected as the recipient of the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s chairman’s [...]

  • Danny Huston

    Danny Huston Discusses the Significance of 'Last Photograph'

    In the decades since Danny Huston made his feature directing debut with “Mr. North,” his 1988 film adaptation of the Thornton Wilder novel “Theophilus North,” he has kept busy in front of the cameras as one of film and television’s most versatile and sophisticated character players. In just the past year, small-screen viewers have been [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content