Night in Paradise
Tae-Goo (Uhm Tae-goo) is a noble but refined gangster who answers to his seemingly loyal boss, Yang (Park Ho-san) and worries for his ill sister and dotes on his young niece. When the latter two are killed in a car crash, a hit organised by a rival gang, Tae-Goo is ordered to murder the don of the responsible gang and is forced into hiding at Jeju Island. Here, he meets Jae-yeon (Jeon Yeo-been), a young terminally ill woman whose fate has led her to act without any rationale, pointing a gun at her head whenever she feels like it, getting drunk and assaulting police officers. When tragedy and treachery seems to follow the two everywhere they turn, they realise that the only person they can trust is each other.
This film has all the traditional elements of a Shakespeare-meets-Scorcese fable. Tragedy, betrayal and deceit lie at every twist, with a hero and heroin at its centre. Uhm’s guarded, catatonic grief balances Jeon’s erratic mania, both lost in the unfair hand life has dealt them just processing it differently. A joyous change in the gangster trope is that the lead female is not the damsel in distress but the dynamic between the two is constantly shifting. One is in need of the other’s help and in the next scene, it’s vice versa.
The suspense that this movie creates can only be compared to what the viewer felt watching the “You think I’m a funny guy?” scene in Goodfellas. With every character contradicting their principles and loyalties, director Park Hoon-jung masterfully creates an atmosphere of tension and anxiety for the entirety of the feature, never hinting at what is to come in the next scene.
In true Korean fashion, there is plenty of blood and the fight scenes are choreographed and synchronised as meticulously as a ballet performance. The only downside is that it could have been a great deal shorter. Although the final forty minutes are jam-packed with action, drama and horror, at times it feels dragged out and overreached. However, the final five minutes remedy this with one of the best revenge scenes in cinema. Equal to that famous Mark Wahlberg sequence at the end of The Departed, just with exponentially more blood.
A melancholic tale of disloyalty and grief intertwined with an action-packed gangster narrative that will leave the audience both satisfied and devastated.
Night in Paradise is released on Netflix on 9th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Night in Paradise here: