Addicted (2002) Review

"Addicted" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Addicted" Korean Theatrical Poster

AKA: Jungdok
Director: Park Young-hoon
Writer: Byun Won-mi
Producer: Lee Choon-Yeon
Cast: Lee Byung-hun, Lee Mi-yeon, Lee Ueol, Park Sun-young
Running Time: 114 min.

By JJ Hatfield

Life is good for the two brothers Ho-jin and Dae-jin. They are very close and good friends too. The two live together as they have no other family until Ho-jin marries. Their lives are peaceful and routine and that seems to suit them fine.

Ho-jin, the elder brother (Lee Eol) is an artist craftsman who works with wood and likes to make ordinary things become extraordinary. He is up and coming in his success and starts doing shows. The younger brother Dae-jin (Lee Byung-hun) likes being a carefree guy without responsibilities who loves to race cars. Ho-jin doesn’t like him racing because it is dangerous but he knows how much Dae-jin loves the life and he can’t talk him out of it.

In different locations but virtuality the same time both brothers are involved in serious car accidents. Both are near death with severe injuries. Rushed to the same hospital Ho-jin and Dae-jin are in coma and the prognosis is not good. Eun-soo does her best to care for them and check in on them at the hospital but as time passes so do her hopes of either of them recovering. There are times Eun-soo doesn’t say anything using body language instead to show how much she has suffered and is still suffering. Ho-jin was such a thoughtful husband, always cooking and giving her surprises. He built many things in their home and his garden. He was so much a part of her life, sending her love notes, so many little things he did for her. How could she live without him?

Hard at work one day Eun-soo receives a phone call that leaves her stunned. Dae-jin has awakened from the coma. As would be expected he is physically very weak and terribly confused. It has been nearly a year since the crash. Eun-soo is of course pleased Dae-jin is alive but no doubt some times she looks at him and for a moment she wishes it was Ho-jin. Of course she never would say anything to Dae-jin. He couldn’t help who got better and who didn’t.Somewhere along the way a note of uneasiness has moved into the story unnoticed.

After some time Dae-jin is told he is well enough to return home. Eun-soo does her best to accept the situation. Her husband gone and now she has his ill brother to care for too. Dae-jin’s recovery is rather miraculous but he has begun to take on habits and mannerisms of Ho-jin. Not as he used to be – he has even given up racing. Even more startling is Dae-jin says he is Ho-jin! This new revelation is tearing Eun-soo apart. One night she invites an old female friend and part of Dea-jin’s racing team to dinner. He does not seem to understand why she thinks he is Dae-jin. He cooks them dinner and both women are so stunned they can barely eat.

Eun-soo repeatedly consults doctors and researches people with similar injuries and even follows through with investigating a soul inhabiting the body of someone else. The poor woman has been through so much, and now the doctor says this? Well not exactly. But there are at least documented cases where a person believed they were another person. And as the doctor stated it is not something that can be tested for.

Dae jin moves, talks, walks like Ho- Jin. What he likes, dislikes. Eun-soo does not believe he is Ho-jin. But everything that happens point to just that. That creepy feeling grows even though nothing is happening. But what if something is about to happen? What will Dae-jin do as Ho-jin? It is a complete unknown, this mix of brothers. That unknown is what makes this movie grab and keep your attention. Ye-jin, Dae-jin’s old female buddy doesn’t believe Dae-jin has Ho-jins spirit. She tries to discover the truth by spending more time with him but she ends up uncertain.

In the meantime Dai-jin and Eun-soo spend more time together and Eun-soo finds herself more accepting of Dae-jin as Ho-jin. It isn’t rational. it’s not logical yet there are things he knows or acts he does that only Ho-jin could possibly know about. Little things only a lover would know.

Lee Byung-hun does a terrific job of being mysterious. When was the last time you saw a good movie with a character that pulled off “mysterious”? The viewer is not certain of his character but it’s played as slightly dangerous and the next scene is not a given. This role could not have been an easy one for him but he manages to pull off the transition from Dae-jin to Ho-jin masterfully.

Lee Eol as Ho-Jin puts in a wonderful performance. Though he is not on screen for the vast majority of the film, he uses what time he has to create the complete persona. If his acting was not strong enough there would really be no movie. It was imperative that he establish Ho-jin and all his mannerisms, likes, dislikes, even the way he moves or works with his furniture. His relationship with Eun-soo is all important.

Mi-yeon Lee as Eun-soo gives a truly award winning performance. Her being given the prestigious Grand Bell Awards, for Best Actress only makes it official the fine work she does in “Addicted”. She is believable as a person would be caught up in such a bizarre situation! So many twists and turns and a couple of heart stopping shocks. You feel them too. The film would fall apart with an actress of lesser skill.

This is an excellent film. It has a lot of mystery right to the end and leaves you with plenty to think about. Then later you will find yourself thinking about “Addicted” again, realizing you had to watch it again. It is perhaps too slow in development for some however they are missing part of the important stuff, such as dialog. Yes exposition is required. There are no bloody, gore filled, martial arts, guns, explosives and such. The action is supplied by the terrific performances of Lee Byung-hun and Lee Mi-yeon and Lee Eol.

Highly Recommended.

Grand Bell Awards 2003
Won Grand Bell Award: Best Actress Lee Mi-yeon

“Addicted” is a fine mystery drama.

JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 9/10

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About JJ Hatfield

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2 Responses to Addicted (2002) Review

  1. DM2 says:

    This is a great movie. As you say, all the actors do a fantastic job. Especially, Lee Mi-yeon, her performance is indeed what holds the film together. Her character is the one in the middle of all that mystery, anxiety, and heartbreak. Her portrayal is award winning many times over. The story is most unpredictable. Excellent film and an excellent review.

  2. JJ Hatfield says:

    I really appreciate your comments and feedback. Even putting together a post takes time and all of the reviewers appreciate those who do find the time to do so!

    “Addicted” is really a great film isn’t it? It had me guessing what was going to happen next. Lee Byung-hun also does a great job but it is Lee Mi-yeon who has to carry the story. She has made several other Korean films that were excellent.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    JJ

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