Published Nov 07, 2013Despite a strong performance from Kim Kap-soo and a mildly intriguing premise, Blood and Ties fails to cohere into anything more than a mediocre familial thriller, with wisps of a critique on the South Korean justice system left flapping in the breeze.
Kap-soo plays Soon-man, a doting single father put under suspicion for a years-old headline-grabbing kidnapping case after a movie on the subject is released using audio from the actual ransom call. Released mere days before the statute of limitations on prosecution expires, the film plants a seed of doubt in the mind of Soon-man's loving daughter, Da-eun (Son Ye-jin); the kidnapper's voice and speech patterns are eerily similar to those of her father. The aspiring young journalist's internal life is thrown into chaos as she investigates the possibility that her kind and caring daddy isn't the man he seems to be, which is only exacerbated by the arrival of a mysterious man claiming to have information involving Da-eun's deceased mother.
The suggestive influence of mass media is a theme made subservient to the dynamic of trust between father and daughter. While not especially revelatory, further exploration of the topic would have given Blood and Ties a sorely needed layer of substance to pad the otherwise thin, mostly predictable melodrama. Dong-suk's vision is as scattered as the script, artlessly and jarringly leaping between footage types and perspectives in order to clumsily cram in expository information. Much of the dialogue is repetitive, and the translation is graceless and outright spotty in places, making it that much harder to appreciate what is already essentially the plot hole-ridden stuff of made-for-TV movies. The frequent inclusion of nauseatingly schmaltzy piano music and laughably sinister string section cues certainly doesn't help the film's cause, either.
Blood and Ties ranks as one of the weakest South Korean films of the year, which still means it's slightly more compelling than half of the junk titles released on North American soil. (CJ Entertainment)