MIZO (2014)

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In a seedy, crime-ridden city a young woman named Mizo (Lee Hyo (이효) forms a strange sexual relationship with brutal low-life thug Woo-sang (Yoon Dong-hwan (윤동환). As their love/hate affair develops, Mizo discovers that the extremely violent Woo-sang was a former detective, turning his back on the law following a shocking scandal with a bar-girl (Sin So-mi (신소미). Much to the chagrin of Woo-sang, his old girlfriend is now living with a small-time local gangster (Lee Jeong-yong (이정용), and the men clash over both her and Mizo. Yet the enigmatic Mizo is harboring a secret and an overpowering desire for revenge that could bring about the ruination of them all.

Either way, it is extremely difficult to care who wins any conflict due to the woeful characterisation and absurdity of events. Two-dimension stereotypes are employed throughout the entirety of the film to the point of genuine annoyance. Woo-sang is a lumbering Neanderthal with zero redeeming qualities; Woo-sang’s rival, the small-time crook who ‘stole’ his ex, merely shouts and swears at every opportunity; and the bar madam is simply a victim waiting to be saved. As the titular protagonist Mizo escapes such treatment somewhat, but usually because she flits from one stereotype to the next creating an aura of unpredictability.

As Mizo, newbie actress Lee Hyo performs well. While the role itself is limited, Lee Hyo conveys a strong sense of melancholy in conjunction with quirks pertaining to being psychologically unbalanced. Her performance is ultimately what holds the entire film together as while the narrative itself is quite predictable, she is anything but. For much of the running time Lee Hyo is required to be aloof and unbalanced, yet when she has the opportunity to delve deeper into emotional material she does so in a melodramatic, but competent fashion.

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