As far as I'm concerned, big screen explosions are always fun. Director Beom-gu Cho apparently agrees, as his Korean action/comedy, 'Quick,' is packed with explosions. Unfortunately, it also happens to be lacking when it comes to everything else -- namely interesting characters and a cohesive plot. Fueled by a premise ripped from every other action flick made in the past twenty years, the film has a slightly self aware sense of humor, but actually ends up being more annoying than funny or exciting. There are some cool set pieces, but for a movie filled with so many chases, crashes, and bangs, it's surprisingly dull.
A motorcycle thug turned motorcycle courier, Han Gi-soo (Min-ki Lee), runs into his ex-girlfriend turned pop star (Ye-won Kang) while on the job. It turns out that she's hired him to escort her to her next gig, but things go terribly wrong when she puts on his helmet. Charged with a ticking bomb, the helmet is set to explode unless the two make "special" deliveries for the bomber within a set amount of time. These deliveries end up being bombs themselves, and the duo are soon pursued by the police. As they scramble to stay alive, they try to prevent as many casualties as possible and attempt to outrun the police and find the real culprit.
The outrageous, over-the-top plot is a ludicrous mish-mash of 'Speed,' 'Crank,' and 'Transporter 3,' and the script never really differentiates itself from these past efforts. An insanely nonsensical opening sets the stage for what follows, and it's immediately clear that telling a cohesive story really isn’t the focus here. The characters are nothing more than stock personalities and there is no real development to speak of. The storyline is extremely convoluted (a few flashbacks are truly laughable) and none of the characters are really very likeable. In fact, the two leads might be the most annoying duo I've come across in quite some time, and their constant yelling, screeching, and squabbling is just plain irritating. Likewise, the bumbling police characters are underdeveloped, and the bad guy and his shoehorned motivations are extremely clichéd.
With that said, the flick actually seems to be aware of most of these issues, and there is a certain self-referential style to its comedy. The movie never takes itself seriously, and some of the humor is actually pretty effective. Overly dramatic moments are nicely undercut by jokes and gags (I especially liked a certain realization near the end), and some of the comedy can be inspired (a scene where one character's confession of love is constantly drowned out by passing traffic is decent). Also, it turns out that the female lead can't take off her motorcycle helmet without setting off the bomb, and this leads to a few silly visual gags (she has to take a shower with it on). Unfortunately, these bright spots really aren't all that bright, and even with its intentional excess, most of the running time is just eye-rolling and dumb.
The plot and characters might be lacking, but the film is home to an almost nonstop assault of exaggerated action. The various set pieces have an over-the-top, cartoon mentality and there are some cool chase sequences and explosive motorcycle stunts. A high octane pace is coupled with split screen, slow motion, and a cornucopia of vehicular mayhem. Despite the constant barrage of visual flash, I actually found a good deal of the action to be relatively boring and uninspired. Thankfully, that's not always the case, and one particular chase scene (featuring several tanks of gas spiraling down a freeway) is sure to please even the most discerning action junkies.
Its plot is extremely thin and convoluted, with clichéd characters and nonsensical story beats, but to its credit, 'Quick' always seems to be aware of its inherent silliness and childish excess. Unfortunately, outside of a few fun gags, it doesn't end up doing anything particularly creative with this self-awareness. Some of the ridiculous action scenes are thrilling, but explosions alone can't sustain an entire film, and more often than not the characters and humor end up being more annoying than they are entertaining. Big adrenaline junkies might want to take a look, but even fans of similar action films are likely to be unimpressed.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Shout Factory brings 'Quick' to Blu-ray on a BD-50 disc housed in a keepcase with a cardboard slipcover. After some logos and warnings, the disc transitions to a standard menu. The packaging indicates that the release is Region A coded.
The movie is provided with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Though filled with a visual assault of explosions and action, the film's heavily stylized aesthetic can actually be a real eyesore.The digital source is mostly clean but there is some noise evident in a few shots. The opening scene (featuring a nighttime motorcycle chase through the city) is actually very impressive, offering striking clarity and a glossy, high-def sheen. Unfortunately, the picture takes a slight hit after this sequence, and the rest of the image is somewhat marred by a fairly harsh, blown out look. Colors are mostly limited to teals and oranges, and while some might enjoy this style, I found it to be very unappealing. I've liked and even been impressed by some transfers that feature similar looks, but here it's just not implemented very well. The high contrast and limited palette occasionally ends up obscuring fine details, and the image has a very "digital" look to it with overly smooth motion. Again, some might like this aesthetic, and the image does contain a pleasing level of sharpness, but for me it was just kind of ugly.
'Quick' has a few legitimately cool visual set pieces, but the film's high contrast style and color palette aren't very appealing, and though clarity is mostly very good, the style can wash away some detail. The picture is still solid, but it's not likely to truly wow any viewers.
The film is presented with a Korean DTS-HD MA 5.1, a Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 track, a Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 track, and an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. Optional English subtitles are also included. Though it can get very loud (in fact, the track seems to be mixed a few decibels higher than most discs) and enveloping, the mix lacks consistency and finesse.
Dialogue is clear and easily heard, but the clean presentation doesn't make the actors' constant screaming any less grating. During the film's numerous action scenes, the soundstage is wide and aggressive, sending squealing tires, revving engines, crashing cars, and exploding bombs directionally around the room. Imaging is natural with smooth transitions between the left, right, and rears. Explosions also carry an impressive, room-shaking jolt that should please bass enthusiasts. Unfortunately, outside of the action scenes, the mix feels rather tiny with a very limited sense of ambiance. Likewise, while the chase sequences are certainly loud, the sound design itself isn't very refined.
The mix certainly knows how to handle explosions well, but much like the actual story, the track doesn't offer much else. Still, the audio is certainly exciting when it needs to be, and while it's far from demo worthy, it's a good track.
Shout Factory has provided a decent assortment of supplements, including a few behind-the-scenes featurettes. All of the extras are presented in what appears to be standard definition merely upscaled to 1080i along with Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and hardcoded English subtitles.
'Quick' is a highly derivative action/comedy that has a few inspired jokes and some cool stunts. The slightly self-aware tone can be interesting, but the plot is really stupid, and the over-the-top action can be surprisingly dull. The video transfer features strong clarity but the highly stylized aesthetic offers a very harsh, digital look that might turn off some viewers. The audio mix provides some aggressive kick but lacks finesse. Tons of behind-the-scenes footage is included that gives audiences a peek into the stunt work and visual effects. The flick is a pretty mediocre effort, but it has its moments, and could make a decent, albeit mindless rental.