A South Korean Teenage Romance Meets Spy Thriller in Commitment


Commitment, a South Korean teenage romance-cum-Bourne-style thriller, is the comfort film equivalent of a peanut-butter-and-meatloaf sandwich. Served as is, the spy stuff is insubstantial, while the love stuff is overcooked, as when Myung-hoon (rapper and boy band leader Choi Seung-hyun), a Spock-stoic North Korean assassin, stabs a double agent to death while wearing his high school uniform.

Characterized by manic tonal shifts, Commitment is both gratuitously nasty and sickly sweet. No one aspect of Myung-hoon’s character is fully developed because the film is an ego-driven vehicle for Choi, a huge pop star in his native Korea.

Myung-hoon, a hardcore killer who is inevitably betrayed by his handlers, needs to be taken seriously, so he kicks one opponent’s head off, a decapitation that’s implied but not shown because Choi is brutal, but not that brutal; he also has to be taken seriously as a Byronic romantic.

He pines for Hye-in (Han Ye-ri), an equally uninvolving introvert who dreams of dancing in Germany (“I looked it up, and they have a famous dance company. They express themselves with dance”). Every other aspect of the film is half-baked, from Myung-hoon’s paranoia to his motivating fear of losing his sister, now kidnapped by North Korean spies.

When Commitment isn’t a perfectly forgettable action film, it’s either an oil-thin melodrama or a charbroiled treat for meatheads.