I thought this film was decent enough to watch. "Shiri" is a generic modern action flick, heavily indebted to American movies like "Heat" and "The Rock" But for all its conventional plotting, convoluted situations and flashy style, there's something quite compulsive about the film. Writer/director Je-gyu Kang balances the action and drama with confidence, and the characters, while not given a massive amount of background, are intriguing and sympathetic. The relationship between Ryu and his girlfriend Hyun (Yun-Jin Kim) is handled rather melodramatically - you just know something bad is going to happen to mess up their blossoming love - but the acting is strong, particularly from Korean heartthrob Suk-Gyu Han and Min-sik Choi, playing head terrorist Park.
The violent set-pieces are restrained in their number but not in their ferocity. The film opens with a gruesome sequence detailing Hee's training by the North Korean military, as she chops off heads and slits throats with determined abandon, while there's a blisteringly exciting gun-battle later on that starts in a theatre before spilling bloodily onto the busy streets of Seoul. In general, Kang is a bit too keen to keep his camera constantly moving, but Sung-Bok Kim's inventive cinematography provides an arresting visual edge.
Kang attempts to give to his film a political dimension, emphasising the economic differences between North and South Korea, while the title derives from a fish that divides its time between the two nations. But this is all approached fairly simplistically, and to be honest, we've seen terrorists threaten the safety of a city with stolen explosives so many times before that the political element isn't hugely important to the suspense. But I guess it's still good to see an action film-maker interested in something other than blowing people up.
"Shiri" is a bit too long for what it delivery's and takes itself too seriously.The climax isn't nearly as exciting as some of the earlier moments either. Nevertheless, the film wears its influences proudly on its sleeve and entertains with conviction.