A Taxi Driver (PG13)
Starring Song Kang-Ho, Ryu Jun-Yeol, Thomas Kretschmann
Directed by Jang Hoon
South Korea, 1980. German reporter Jürgen Hinzpeter (Avengers: Age of Ultron’s Thomas Kretschmann) hires a cash-strapped cabbie (The Host’s Song Kang-Ho, brilliant and reliable as usual) to drive him to Gwangju, where he hopes to expose the military government’s brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy protests.
Getting into the besieged city is tough, but getting out is even tougher, especially after Hinzpeter has gotten what he came for. The historical piece — South Korea’s official entry for the Foreign Language Film Oscar race — is a riveting political thriller-cum-buddy road flick, one fraught with peril, sorrow and unlikely humour. It does, however, have one weak link: An exciting but superfluous climactic car chase which is indebted more to James Bond than to history. Then again, it’s a minor grouse. (***1/2)