Hostage: Missing Celebrity review - Hwang Jung Min plays an abducted actor as himself

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Hwang Jung Min is an abducted actor in Hostage: Missing Celebrity.
Hwang Jung Min is an abducted actor in Hostage: Missing Celebrity.

Length: 94 minutes
Director: Pil Gam Seong
Cast: Hwang Jung Min, Ryoo Kyung Soo, Lee Ho Jung, Jung Jae Won

In theatres 18 August (Singapore)

2.5 out of 5 stars

A South Korean news anchor delivers the foreboding news of a double kidnapping - a male shopkeeper and his young female assistant. Yet, the news is mostly ignored by the populace, until a supposed A-list veteran actor, Hwang Jung Min, who plays himself in this film, is abducted too.

Which is essentially the premise of the show, and progresses on to be rather predictable and cliched.

But we must give some credit where it is due. It is first-time director Pil Gam Seong's inaugural film, and although the plot could be used for any ubiquitous kidnapping film out there, he makes a great effort in pushing actor Hwang Jung Min's limits, surrounded with a relatively unknown but brilliantly psychotic supporting cast as the kidnappers.

Hwang attends a movie promotional event for his latest works and then has a post-party dinner after, where he leaves his manager to buy hangover pills from a convenience store near his home. There, he comes face to face with a trio of aggressively staring hoodlums, who after realising that he is a famous actor, unceremoniously attacks and shoves him into their van.

Upon coming to, Hwang finds himself in a dilapidated and corrugated shack on the outskirts of Seoul, eerily similar to something you'd find in a Saw movie.

Things ramp up as Hwang tries to escape, teaming up with fellow abductee Ban So Yeon (Lee Yoo Mi), the shopkeeper's assistant. But their attempts are foiled at every turn by the demented leader of the kidnappers Choi Ki Wan (Kim Jae Bum) and his equally unhinged right-hand man Yeom Dong Hun (Ryoo Kyung Soo).

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which side you're rooting for), a gang of kidnappers is only as strong as its weakest link. The balding and meekest member of the gang is a huge fan of Hwan Jung Min, and grapples with his adoration of Hwang and his fear of his leader, leading to opportunities for Hwang to escape. This leads to a handful of red herrings and close misses, where the gang starts pursuing Hwang and in-fighting.

Alas, the film ends on a very predictable, feel-good note and everyone is happy and receives their just desserts.

Hwang does have an iconic scene, where he goes into a full seizure mode, drooling excessively and even wetting his pants. 

The veteran is known for his gritty roles as a mafia boss and a hitman in his previous roles, and this reversal of roles in acting himself provides a refreshing contrast to his supporting cast, all of whom excelled as villains.

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