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[K-Movie Review] ‘Pipeline’: Hackneyed Teamwork

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Y.U

Credit: Megabox Plus M, Little Big Pictures

Director Yoo Ha has created bold and distinctive films such as Once Upon a Time in High School (2004), A Dirty Carnival (2006), and Gangnam Blues (2015). This time, he is back with a different style of movie, an entertaining caper film, that the audience can lightly enjoy. Pipeline is a movie about an unfamiliar subject of ‘oil heist’ involving chaotic teamwork between characters. Small screen actors such as Seo In Guk, Lee Soo Hyuk, and Eum Moon Seok, who we rarely spot on the silver screen, fill the 108 minutes of running time with their fresh appearance.

Credit: Megabox Plus M, Little Big Pictures

Pipeline is a story that occurs when ‘Pin Driller,’ the best perforating engineer in the oil heist industry, joins a risky operation to steal hundreds worth of billions of oil. A professional welder, Jeop Sae, a former government official who knows the ground well, Mr. Na, a powerful human excavator, Big shovel, and a watchdog who monitors all of them at the hotel where the operation is, Counter are in this get-rich-quick scheme. Lastly, there is Gun Woo, the ruthless successor to a corporation behind the scene. He is the one who sets the scheme, recruits and makes a team of thieves, and relentlessly pushes to get things done. The overall character composition is something we’ve seen many times in other entertaining crime movies. 

Although the concept of “stealing oil” is new, the film follows the same old equation of caper movies; The team completes the operation successfully after several immediate crises. Led by Pin Driller, the team members clash now and then due to different understandings and interests. In particular, Jeop Sae, who only pursues his own interests, plays a troublemaker who gets on Pin Driller’s nerves. But, the bigger issue lies outside of the team. Gun Woo doesn’t give a thing about how things are in the team. So, in the end, the team unite as one force against the common enemy during their crisis.

Credit: Megabox Plus M, Little Big Pictures

Familiarity is not a bad thing. It can be entertaining enough depending on how the characters are used and how the story develops, even during the predictable flows. However, unfortunately, it is hard to find even the apparent “fun” in Pipeline. It seems like the movie has everything needed, but it doesn’t show the characters’ charm to play as a team. As the film focuses on the conflict between Pin Driller and Gun Woo, it wastes the unique aspects of other characters with attractive backgrounds. The process of solving internal problems is also puzzling because the team members suddenly end all the conflicts and show their loyalty. Furthermore, the characters are so flat that it almost gives an “outdated” impression. At least, Eum Moon Seok’s spotless performance as Jeop Sae gave vitality to the movie and saved the flat storyline.

Because they don’t use characters evenly, the development is also dull. Aside from brilliant crime methods and ingenious team play, it’s hard to find differences from other crime movies. It makes the viewer wonder why the film even used ‘stealing oil’ as its subject. Everything happens in the expected flow without dramatic fun or tension. The Deja Vu gets more clear and vivid when it follows the trace of the typical Korean crime movies. A worn-out gangster figure appears, looking intimidating as usual. And at the moment of the crisis, they use threats and violence. The texture of the action scene may be a little different from the director’s previous works. However, he didn’t change the way he delivers stories. Due to the limited budget, computer graphics in the second half of the film are disappointing, and the ending is bland.

It is indeed a pleasure that the movie finally meets the audience since it was completed in 2019. The movie release has been delayed due to various reasons, such as the Coronavirus, etc. However, it is disappointing that the content and quality have not been able to keep up with the level of audiences who have raised their standard over the past few years.

 

Verdict: Unpolished and hackeyed K-criminal movie that only changed the subject. (4/10)

Editor Hong Hyun Jung: K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.

Translator Kim Y.U: Welcome K-pop, K-drama, K-movie, K-culture fans. I hope you enjoy our news about K-entertainment.

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