When brothers Jeok-san (Jeong Do-won (정도원) and Heuk-san (Park Geon-gyu (박건규) are caught betraying the mob, the gangsters seek bloody retribution. After beating the brothers to a pulp, the bloodthirsty enforcers decide to gouge out Heuk-san’s eyes before setting him on fire. What the gangsters don’t count on however, is older brother Jeok-san’s insatiable desire for revenge. Stealing an inordinate amount of dynamite Jeok-san targets everyone within the mob, saving those immediately responsible for his brother’s death for last.
A title such as Dynamite Man (다이너마이트맨) conjures images of an entertaining grindhouse B-movie, a chance to exploit some of the more silly genre excesses in a fun, postmodern fashion. Unfortunately however, Dynamite Man is simply an awful, awful film. The revenge thriller is a woefully dull and plodding affair, bizarrely not even fulfilling the basic criteria of the genre by offering inventive scenes of violent catharsis. This is particularly odd given that Jeok-san’s modus operandi is to tie dynamite to the body of his target – begging the questions how, where and why he obtained it – yet rarely is it set off, depriving the audience of even that small spectacle. It is difficult to blame director Jeong Hyuk-won (정혁원) for such an issue considering Dynamite Man clearly has an ultra-low budget, yet that being the case perhaps an alternative choice would have been more suitable as scenes of revenge are far from satisfactory, while the terrible characterisation make it extremely difficult to care either way.
What are in abundance however are talking heads scenes that go on for excruciating length. One such scene involves Jeok-san talking with his priest for over 20 minutes. With no change in camera shot. Worse still, the dialogue is appalling and laughably cliched. The conversation includes a ridiculously elementary discussion on the ‘light’ and ‘dark’ within a person’s soul as well as childhood memories, one of which involving swimming at a beach, that reduces Jeok-san – the cold-hard serial killer – to tears. Amazingly such sleep-inducing techniques are again employed when Jeok-san visits his brother in the hospital – again for over 20 minutes – as they discuss, amongst other things, their pet puppy. Luckily a few different camera shots are involved during those particular scenes, but the technical prowess is a serious issue throughout the entirety of the film.
The one area of Dynamite Man that is well-crafted are the flashback sequences. Shot in black and white, these scenes contain by far the most competently constructed shots within the film, while their insertion within the story at random junctures is on the right track. Yet even with the flashbacks, unfortunately there is no escaping how amateurish and lackluster Dynamite Man is.
A title such as Dynamite Man conjures images of a fun grindhouse B-movie. However the reality is a far cry from such hopes as the film is an utterly woeful attempt at a revenge thriller, one that is not only excruciatingly dull but also technically quite amateurish. While novice director Jeong Hyuk-won does well in constructing flashback sequences, taken as a whole Dynamite Man is a sleep-inducing film and one to be avoided.