Directed by Chris Chan Lee
Two Boots Pioneer, December 5 through 13
In Undoing, Chris Chan Lee takes up where Raymond Chandler left off (sort of) and turns the bowels of Los Angeles into a stage for a noirish meditation on the nature of good and evil. After a mysterious year-long plot device—uh, absence—Sam (Sung Kang) returns to Koreatown to avenge a friend's death and rekindle his relationship with his own true love, Vera (Kelly Hu). Along the way, inevitably, he gets tangled in a sticky web of revenge, deceit, and organized crime, which may or may not involve a corrupt policewoman (Mary Mara) and Sam's own mentor (Tom Bower). For all the thrilling elements, the pace is surprisingly plodding. Lee tries to innovate, but he relies on so many tricks—woozy overexposures, rapid-fire slideshows—that his movie looks like the product of a teenager playing with the camera on his new MacBook. He also has a heavy hand with color filters, especially a yellow one that tints pool water the color of mustard. The jaune-ness of this "noir" is a distraction at best, a cheesy racial pun at worst. The film does convincingly capture the squalid, eerie beauty of Koreatown, but indifferent acting and contrived artsiness prove Undoing's undoing.
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