Broken (NR)

Drama 90 July 19, 2013
By Michael Nordine
Not long into Broken, single father Sang-Hyun is told by a coworker at his factory, "You have a heart of gold -- that's your problem." His daughter is raped and murdered by a group of teenagers in the next scene and, given his eventual response of tracking down the killers one by one and personally punishing them à la Death Wish, it would appear that his friend is both right and wrong. Sang-Hyun is so self-abnegating and concerned with pleasing others in the early going that his eventual vigilantism represents both a breaking point and a liberation, even a becoming.

The police are dutiful but ultimately ineffectual, as they so often are in movies about aggrieved parents of murder victims, and the gray area in which Lee Jung-ho's film spends most of its time does little to suggest that our (anti)hero is unjustified in his response: There's the letter of the law, and then there's the complex range of visceral reactions to tragedy. Sang-Hyun hunts down his daughter's murderers at the same time the police catch on to his activities, and Lee treats the overlapping searches as both suspenseful developments and a way to more fully understand his protagonist.

Jung Jae-young gives a physical, full-bodied performance in the main role; the transformation Sang-Hyun undergoes will devastate you even before you learn that he's doing this not just out of rage but in order to keep the memory of his daughter alive; if he doesn't do it, his grief-addled mind reasons, then who will?
Rufus Norris Cillian Murphy, Tim Roth, Lino Facioli, Bill Milner, Zana Marjanovic, Robert Emms, Rory Kinnear, Seeta Indrani, Rory Girvan, Eloise Laurence Mark O'Rowe, Daniel Clay Dixie Linder, Tally Garner, Nick Marston, Bill Kenwright Film Movement

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