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Review Veteran a.k.a. Beterang (2015): Simple but effective good versus bad tale!

genre: action, crime, comedy







One thing you have to understand about Veteran (directed by Ryoo Seung-wan) that it isn't a pure action flick. It has some decent enough action in it but that's not what it's about. Very important to be aware of in case you were expecting this.

Especially in the beginning you will be confronted with some crazy antics that could put you off the film since it's a little too comedic and silly. My advice is to be patient as the main story starts after 22 minutes or so. Can those first 22 minutes be ignored then? Not really. It perhaps is a little too long for an introduction but does set up a few essential elements of the film. You will get to know main character Seo Do-cheol (Jung-min Hwang) and what he is about and how he interacts with his friends and colleagues. He is not your perfect hero but he is a good man and cop who can dish out pain when required. At one point he gets involved into an a case concerning Chauffeur Bae (who he has worked with) and a big corporate director Jo Tae-oh (Ah In Yoo). I won't reveal that much about the case itself but it's safe to say that Jo is one of the most despicable human beings in the world. He is a prime example of a rich spoiled brat who thinks he can get away with anything solely for the reason that he is born into money. His character has very little to no likable qualities about him which make him very conveniently evil. But then again it is very serviceable in the good versus bad tale. All Seo Do-cheol wants is justice and humanity but apparently that is too much to ask from this corporation. Now the whole approach to the little man versus big corporate is over simplified where all of the members this particular corporation are soulless and evil. But it does a good job of symbolizing the frustration and anger people have when dealing with companies like this since they do seem to think they are above the law. It's made very clear where your loyalties should lie and it almost is therapeutic to watch Seo battle this corporation. 

While at this point the story is to be taken seriously there are many moments where the comedy shines through and will have you laughing. I thought this was done well and quite refreshing since it prevented the story from becoming too dark and negative. And actually it dialed down the melodrama considerably which usually takes center stage. I don't know about you but for me that is a big plus. In this day and age almost every movie wants to be dark, gritty and edgy only not every movie is suited to be approached like that. Besides if every movie is dark and edgy it simply loses the desired effect and becomes boring. It is very refreshing to see that there still are film makers who try to do things differently. Especially after The Berlin File which also is directed by Ryoo Seung-wan and that took itself far too seriously.

So what about the action? The stunts and action scenes are choreographed by Jung Doo-hong who you might know from Arahan and The City of Violence. And the action therefore is very good. At least it looked like our main character could handle himself in a fight. But like I said the focus is not on the action so there is not that much present which might be disappointing if you were expecting this. I wasn't and was rooting for main character Seo all the way since he is very likable and you want him to succeed in his quest to fight the injustice that has been done. Overall this a very entertaining film throughout but it is one that avoids complexities and substance just so you know.



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