Review. Ordinary Person explores one man’s fall, the ripple effect, and if there is hope for an ordinary person to impact their world.
Synopsis. What if you struggled to make it on your salary? What if you were given the opportunity for easy money in exchange for your ethics? Would you take the money and never look back? Or would you stop and see the ramifications? This is the basis for Ordinary Person.
More Details. Ordinary Person is a 2017 Korean film about a police officer, Sung Jin (Son Hyun Joo) who makes an arrest that brings the smooth talking powerful National Security Planning chief, Kyoo Nam (Jang Hyuk) into his orbit. Kyoo Nam offers Sung Jin the opportunity for money IF he’ll do as he’s told regarding the arrested criminal. Sung Jin weights the pros – money to improve his family’s standard as well as an operation for his son – versus the cons – tacking on more crimes to a confessed criminal – and makes his choice. But the ripple effects are far reaching. Will Sung Jin retain his moral fiber?
What I liked about Ordinary Person:
Well Told Story. Writer Sa Moo Il wrote a tale with many standard elements – greed, undefeatable powerful people, sick child that needs an operation – that became the effective anchors of this film. Ordinary Person looks into many characters’ souls and finds some lacking, some slacking, and some that never waver. Brought to life by director Kim Bong Han who excelled at pacing and framing the pinnacle moments with cinematography that amped the emotional punch.
Son Hyun Joo as the officer, Sung Jin, that is tempted. You know what he chooses, that’s the crux of the film. But the reasons why he makes these choices and how he grapples with the ripple effects are what this film is about. I recently saw Son Hyun Joo in the kdrama Criminal Minds. He was one of the best parts of that kdrama. He has an intensity that draws you to his characters. I couldn’t support Sung Jin’s choices but had empathy for the consequences of his actions. It must be noted that Son Hyun Joo’s filmography of dramas and movies is expansive and impressive.
Kim Sang Ho as the determined reporter, Jae Jin, that wants to expose wrong. It was Jae Jin’s friendship with Sung Jin that made this character the touchstone. I fully supported Jae Jin’s intent to right wrongs and help the ordinary man beat the established power base. He trusted his friend Sung Jin to do right. His beliefs and actions never faltered. One of the most power moments of the film was when Jae Jin tells Sung Jin that he’s only an ordinary person that wants to live in a world that of common sense. He was determined to make that world materialize.
Jang Hyuk as the powerful Kyoo Nam, who tempts Sung Jin to do his bidding for his own agenda. Kyoo Nam wasn’t a likeable guy. He flexed his power with impunity and didn’t care if others were trampled in the process. His head to head moments with the key characters of Sung Jin and Jae Jin were some of the best moments of this film. Using charm, quiet tones, and a laser focus Kyoo Nam pursued the results he wanted, no matter the cost. Jang Hyuk let this character be who he was, the devil of this story.
What I did not like about Ordinary Person:
First half of the film sets the stage. I didn’t find the first half of the film gripping. Watching Sung Jin slide down the slippery slope was a given. It was the second half of the film, which revealed what happened after the downward slide where the elements of surprise and the emotional impact lay.
Final Thoughts: Ordinary Person was a well acted solid story film. The trio of key characters drove this film. You may not have liked all of them or their choices, but there were consequences. In the end, you wanted to believe an ordinary person could succeed over establishment’s power through their own moral fiber.