Johnnie To’s 2013 Drug War finds the Hong Kong action auteur working at or at least very near the top of his considerable game. Action packed, violent, and full of betrayal and moral ambiguity, it bears all the hallmarks of the great HK genre offerings. A South Korean remake titled Believer is on the way. The first trailer just arrived and it looks like a worthy, and totally badass, adaptation.
Regrettably, I don’t watch nearly as many Korean crime thrillers (or films in general) as I used to. But hot damn, Believer looks like it has the goods. Drugs, corruption, violence, bad guys trying to catch worse guys, a hyper-stylized visual palate. With that throbbing score and nonstop air of tension, this trailer shows me everything I want. Even if it doesn’t have subtitles, you get the definite sense of what’s going on.
Cho Jin-woong (A Hard Day) steps into the lead—a role previously filled by Sun Honglei. He plays Won-ho, a detective bent on taking down a major organized crime operation that runs the drug game in Korea. Ryu Jun-yeol (A Taxi Driver) takes over for Louis Koo. He plays Rak, a drug dealer who teams up with Won-ho in his crusade. You can bet their efforts will be less than legal.
Director Lee Hae-young (The Silenced) also assembled a strong crew of supporting players. The cast features Park Hae-joon (Warriors of the Dawn), Cha Seung-won (Blades of Blood), and Kim Sung-ryoung (71: Into the Fire, The Target). It also marks the final performance of Kim Joo-hyuk (The Servant), who plays the unhinged drug lord the heroes take on. Should be one to watch.
Believer opens in Korean cinemas on May 24. No word on a release in other territories, but for fans of badass action movies, this is one we should all be keeping an eye on.