Escape From Mogadishu (PG13)
Starring Kim Yoon-Seok, Zo In-Sung, Huh Joon-Ho, Koo Kyo-Hwan, Kim So-Jin, Joung Man
Sik, Kim Jae-Hwa, Park Gyeong-Hye
Directed by Ryoo Seung-Wan
South Korea's Black Hawk Down. With help from North Korea. Instead of soldiers fleeing trigger-happy Somali gunmen, it’s a ragtag bunch of sworn Asian enemies forced accidentally into teaming up to find a flight out of their chaotic African hellhole.
Based apparently on a true incident in Somalia’s civil war in1991, a bunch of North Koreans seeks unlikely refuge in the besieged and ravaged South Korean embassy looking like a makeshift Alamo in lawless Mogadishu.
Both sides are there to woo Somalia’s vote for UN recognition. Which means we eagerly lap up the North-South divide of clever irony and dramatic quirkiness that K-movies do so well.
The ambassadors — The Chaser’s Kim Yoon-Seok plays the South’s diplomat — are humanised as contrasting but gradually warming kindred spirits despite their countries’ extremely cold war.
There’s a telling communal dinner scene together, but the film doesn’t spend enough time milking this inter-Korean alien-vs-alien dynamic. Best odd take — rival hardcore intelligence officers clash when the SK agent makes secret “conversion certificates” for the Northerners’ supposed defection.
It’s the interlude before the big-money highlight when the foes put mutual distrust aside for a dangerous dash to freedom across hordes of armed Somalis, portrayed here as corrupt, cruel and frenziedly violent.
As the Korean convoy of cars covered with duct-taped books and protective stuff speeds past a mazy gauntlet in the rubble-strewn streets — filmed in Morocco — chased by thousand-bullet shooters, it’s an all-action Great Escape sequence that would make Black Hawk Down proud. (3.5/5 stars)
Photo: Golden Village Pictures