Sometimes you don't feel like yourself. It's like you're walking through a haze, in a dreamlike state, and nothing can wake you up, or shake you out of it. Some days things just don't go your way. It seems, even if you got a chance to do it all over again, the world would find some other way to mess up this particular day. And somehow, even though your intentions are honourable, you'll end up hurting those you try to protect.
A young traffic reporter, Suh Yu-jin, has just moved in to a new apartment. She hasn't even finished unpacking, when there's a knock on the door. Outside is a punk, who's delivering something to Khan, the guy Yu-jin is renting the apartment from. He tells her that it's important. That she has to make sure Khan gets it. Then he hands her a small innocent looking Mp3 player. Yu-jin puts it in her bag, and doesn't give it another thought.
Enter detective Kang Sung-joo. He's speeding down a busy highway, trying to keep up with another car. He tries to get the car to stop, but the driver ignores him and floors the speeder. The driver, by the way, is the guy who was delivering the Mp3 player in the previous scene. Detective Kang has no choice but to follow the other car. Moments later, the chase ends when the car crashes. Kang rushes to help, but its too late. The driver is dead, as is one of the passengers. The other passenger is barely breathing. Whatever he wanted from these people, he's not going to get now. He does manage to retrieve the driver's cellphone, and that may be all he needs to continue his investigation.
Cut to: A late-night shakedown in the underworld. A group of high ranking gangsters are busy stirring up the bottom of the barrel, looking for something important. Does it have to do with the shipment of cocaine, three kilos worth, with a estimated street value of $10 mill, recently gone missing? Perhaps. Either way, pity the fool who gets in their way. The preferred method of persuasion is the administration of a lethal overdose of coke, and then waiting for the victim to spill their guts before they die.
Back to Yu-jin. As she heads to work in the early hours of the morning, she's walking through an empty street, where she spots a cat. She stops to photograph it, but doesn't notice the team of hot-headed gangsters lying in wait, and inadvertently snaps a few shots of them in the process.
They chase her down, but Detective Kang arrives out of the blue to save her. When the initial shock has subsided she agrees to let him give her a lift to work, and during the following trip it dawns on her that she's seen Kang before. He also has a sense of Diego vu, but he shrugs it off. For Yu-jin, however, it's more than just deja vu. Since the day began she's had some strange visions, and finds that she's able to predict what will happen in almost every situation she encounters. "I feel like I've lived this day before", she says. What's that about?
During the next 24 hours this and other questions will be answered as the lives of these people will collide and converge, and the case about the missing coke will blow up in the face of at least one them.
But this is about more than just $10 million's worth of coke. It's also about a photo gone missing. A photo showing a cop in the most unfortunate situation: Dealing with some gangsters. It's about a young reckless cop, whose mentor is accused of stealing said drugs. And it's about a girl who may have lived this exact day, once before.
Then there's the Mp3 player, surely that fits in somewhere as well...
"The brothers gonna work it out... The brothers gonna work it out..."
The monotone beat of "Leave Home" with The Chemical Brothers is blasting out of the speakers, the image blurs for a second and then comes into focus, as we race down the highway.
It doesn't take long before "Some" demonstrates a flair for mixing simple images and sounds with panache, and with sleight of hand it creates some uniquely flavored moments. The film is nothing if not a visual treat, and there's no denying that director Chang Yoon-hyun represents a stunning force in Korean cinema. He also directed the fantastic "Tell Me Something", an equally complex and beautiful film about a serial killer. However, "Some" will be destined to languish in the shadows of this defining masterpiece, for more than one reason.
One of them being that the the chronologically challenged story is almost ridiculously complex. A myriad of characters swarm in and out of the story, nobody takes the times to stop and recap what's happened during the last few scenes (come on, I grew op on American films. I get easily confused), and there's an endless line of unspoken issues and unexplained details that linger in the background, meaning that you won't truly appreciate the complexity of the film until the second time you see it. Seemingly unrelated events play out like scattered pieces of a puzzle, and it's hard to shake the feeling that we're missing that crucial corner piece that would allow us to make sense of it all. And don't get me started on Yu-jin's flashforward visions, likely to annoy you beyond the end credits.
But before you rush ahead and chalk all this up among film's faults, let me say I found the style intriguing and challenging. It does require that you are wide awake when you watch it, because the film won't give you more than one chance to absorb an important detail. Though I will concede that it's probably a little easier to follow if you don't have to read subtitles all the time.
Like I said before, "Some" is also a visual treat. We're not talking Michael Bay visual extravaganza, here the keywords are: Moody, dark and rainy. A big city (probably Seoul, but I'm not sure) serves as a beautiful backdrop, and "Some" thinks bigger than most Korean films. We're out in the street, out in the open. We have massive brawls among the gangsters, car chases and car crashes, and from a foreigners point of view it's fascinating to see a bit more of Korea than we're used to.
Everything is documented in beautiful 2,35:1 widescreen images, and though it's not as groundbreaking a work as for example "Se7en" - with which the film shares a number of visual similarities - cinematographer Kim Seong-bok has delivered an impressive array of haunting visuals, easily matching his great work in films such as "Silmido" (2004), "Public Enemy" (2002), "Tell Me Something" (1999) and "Shiri" (1999).
Finally I should mention the film's obsession with modern technology, especially cell phones. They play a vital role in the film, and even supplies some twist and surprises to the story, so pay attention to the various phone displays, you never know when they'll contain important information.
"Some" ventures into territory previously visited by the likes of "Usual Suspects" and "Memento", but it's darker and more brooding, and as the story moves towards the inevitable conclusion, it becomes obvious that there is no way everybody's gonna be okay in the end.
In Korea "Some" fell through the cracks, and nobody wanted to see it. The film bombed to the tune of 300.000 admissions, about 1/10 of what would be expected from a blockbuster. Adding insult to injury, this happen as "Taegukgi" soared and sold an unprecedented 11.700.000 tickets.
The film's failure doesn't surprise me. It's the kind of film you might turn off after 30 minutes, if you're having a bad day. It's difficult to grasp, hard to approach, it's complex and elusive, but it's also a film which isn't afraid of mixing things up, by thrilling you with crazy action, while at the same time demanding that you give it your complete attention. In other words: "Some" is something of a rare treat.
Oh, and one last thing... The most important question in the film, will not be answered. And what question is that? Watch it and find out.