Guns & Talks (2001) Review

"Guns & Talks" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Guns & Talks" Korean Theatrical Poster

AKA: Guns and Talks
Director: Jang Jin
Producer: Kang Woo-Suk
Cast: Shin Hyun-Joon, Shin Ha-Gyun, Won Bin, Jung Jai-Yung, Jeong Jin-Young, Yun Ju-Sang
Running Time: 123 min

By Equinox21

This film is a classic! Though, it took watching it twice to come to that realization. But every time I watch this one, I come to appreciate it even more. The acting is terrific, the comedy is funny, the action is spectacular, and the music is excellent!

The movie is about a foursome team of Gen-X hit men. The leader is Sang-yeon (Shin Hyeon-jun [Blue]); he gets the team their jobs and likes to take pictures of himself with the clients. The sniper/marksman is Jae-yeong (Jeong Jae-yeong [No Blood No Tears]), a man of few words; his cold, quiet delivery is super cool! The crazy one is Jung-woo (Shin Ha-kyun [J.S.A., Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance]); he just can’t seem to pull off a solo mission to kill a pregnant woman, so instead he comes up with some great excuses as to why he keeps failing. Finally, the narrator of the movie and last member of the team is Ha-yeon (Won Bin); the younger brother of Sang-yeon, he just wants his chance to actually be able to do the shooting, instead of being the support man every time. This movie was perfectly cast. The scenes of the team in their house are terrific, especially when they’re all sitting around watching the pretty newscaster Oh Young-lan on TV. They certainly aren’t the brightest bulbs in the bunch, they’re all funny in their own quirky ways and that just makes the movie even more enjoyable!

The movie is a perfect blend of comedy and action. There’s enough of each to satisfy most people, and more than enough to be thoroughly enjoyable. The action is VERY stylish, and some of the coolest I’ve seen in any movie, period. The Hamlet scene is probably in my top five coolest movie scenes of all time. None of the other action scenes could compare to this one, but were all still really cool. Between the mix of action and comedy, this movie flowed perfectly from beginning to end, and could not have worked better. The funniest elements of Guns & Talks only seem to get funnier with each viewing, as well. Just watch for the Leon reference, hilarious!

One of my favorite elements of this one was the soundtrack. The theme was extremely catchy, and was used quite appropriately in various scenes. Thanks to the music, a couple scenes feel much like an old Saturday morning cartoon. The music during the aforementioned Hamlet scene was also some of the best I’ve heard in a recent movie. It was so good that I had to go out and buy the OST, which is worth every penny!

This one is near perfect, and is easily one of my favorite Korean movies. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. Then watch it again to fully appreciate it. It will not let you down, and will only get better the more you watch it!

Equinox21’s Rating: 9.5/10

By Joe909

More of a comedy than an action fest, Guns & Talks is a chatty, slightly-too-long “offbeat gangster” flick about a quartet of fashionable hit men. As a matter of fact, at first glance you might figure these guys would be members of a Korean N’Sync, rather than dangerous hit men. They have large, expensive wardrobes, each of them probably spent a ton on their haircuts, and they drive a nice car.

Narrated by the youngest member of the group, an annoying and effeminate Won Bin, Guns & Talks starts off with a hit, as the four work together to take out a few mob bosses. Their assassination methods aren’t of the John Woo variety, however; instead, these guys use poisonous gas and other tricks to kill their targets. Only the sniper resorts to old-fashioned shootings, and in the opening we’re treated to one of those “bullet time” effects as we follow his bullet through the parking lot and to its target.

After that, the plot kicks in, with each of the assassins (save for the sadly-underused sniper) getting his own story. There’s also a police inspector who has it in for the guys, as they murdered his prime witness in a case against a high-level thug. What follows is a multi-leveled story filled with a few comedic moments, lots of dialog, some sappy melodrama, and gorgeous cinematography.

I can’t say that it all works perfectly, though. Like most Korean movies, Guns & Talks is just too long for it’s own good. And I’ve never been one for voice-over narration. You can moan about how “dumbed down” Hollywood is until you’re blue in the face, but I still think Asian movies can even be worse. Guns & Talks is a case in point, as the prettyboy narrator feels that he must explain each and every thing to you in the most minute detail. The ending is a perfect example of this, as the hit men’s boss (Shin Hyun Jun) and the police inspector (Jeong Jin Young) have their final showdown in the local precinct. The inspector refuses to kill or arrest Jun, and any fool with a walnut-sized brain would understand why. However, the narrator spells it out for us, and it just feels cheap and unnecessary.

What keeps this from being an action extravaganza is the fact that the hit men must kill their targets in the exact method desired by their clients. For example, they must blow the left hand off of a target, and on another job they must blow a target up. So there aren’t any gun fights or elaborate action scenes in this movie, which is a shame. There aren’t even that many gadgets, even though these guys have a gadget-making, “Q”-type uncle who whips together devices for them.

The music is probably the most annoying factor in the mix. It blares over the action and dialog at any possible moment. What makes this bad is the fact that the music sounds like rejected elevator muzak. Not sure if any viewers have noticed, but the central theme of Guns & Talks is basically a rip-off of Herbie Hancock’s early ’80s hit “Rockit.” It was stuck in my head for days after I watched the film.

There are good points about the movie, though. For example, during one of the sappier moments, in which Won Bin relates to the other hit men the effects of being in love, he mistakes the other hit men’s laughter for swells of emotion. The payoff for this scene is done very well, because at first we don’t know the others are laughing, and we’re left thinking that the director’s trying to shove this maudlin dialog down our throat. There’s also a cool assassination set-up during a play, but the resolution is terrible. Before the hit, the guys worry over how they’ll escape after they do the job. Yet we never see how they actually do manage to escape.

In the end, Guns & Talks is just an okay movie. It doesn’t have enough action or suspense to thrill action fans. It isn’t consistently funny enough for the comedy fans. It doesn’t have enough drama for the drama fans. It doesn’t have enough romance for the girly-men or the ladies. Actually, it tries to embrace all of these separate genres, but doesn’t manage to gel them together into a coherent, fulfilling whole.

The movie’s a bit too sappy at parts, and the ending is saccharine beyond belief (picture this: an armed hit man walks into a police precinct, shoots a few things, and walks out without a scratch). Some of the plot threads don’t have much of a resolution (such as the surly hit man’s blooming romance with a pregnant, would-be target; the first half of the film makes you think this will be an important part of the story, but the thread is basically dropped halfway through). The comedy doesn’t always work, and the melodrama gets doled out pretty thick; but then again, this seems to be the standard for most Korean movies, and I figure those people who really like them will be expecting this.

Joe909’s Rating: 7/10

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