A Man of Reason Action

Man on a Mission: A TIFF Review of ‘A Man of Reason’

September 19, 2022Ben MK

In the world of movies, characters looking to start a new life but who find themselves inevitably drawn back into their old ways go by many different names. Whether it's Michael Corleone or John Wick, the films structured around these protagonists have mesmerized moviegoing audiences for decades. And in A Man of Reason, director and star Jung Woo-sung is adding to that tried-and-true cinematic tradition, in this tale of a former criminal looking to do good by the daughter he never knew he had.

Set amid the high-rises and skyscrapers of Seoul, South Korea, the story follows Su-hyuk (Jung), a hitman for a criminal organization led by "the Chairman," who has just been released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence. Inspired to change his ways after paying a visit to his ex-girlfriend and learning that he's the father of her 10-year-old daughter, Su-hyuk approaches the Chairman and informs him of his intent to leave behind his life of crime. Unfortunately, the Chairman doesn't care for Su-hyuk's desire to reform, and when he enlists the services of a couple of unhinged hired assassins to kidnap Su-hyuk's daughter and get rid of him once and for all, it will force Su-hyuk to face off against his former underworld associates, as he'll stop at nothing to bring his daughter home safe. What follows is a series of violent encounters, most of which will leave viewers on the edge of their seats. At the same time, Jung doesn't shy away from quieter character moments and more humorous beats, the latter of which brings some welcome levity to the otherwise grim narrative.

Suffice to say, audiences should find much to like here, from the stylish action choreography to the choice of needle drops, which gives the film a somewhat playful edge. If you're expecting a movie as intense and as crowd-pleasing as John Wick, however, think again. A Man of Reason won't blow viewers away like Keanu Reeves' franchise-starter did; however, for fans of Korean action thrillers, it does deliver a degree of fan service that will at least keep genre die-hards reasonably satisfied, if only for a couple of hours.

A Man of Reason screens under the Special Presentations programme at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 43 min.

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