In the ’90s, action-film addicts started turning to Asia for their adrenaline fixes, as Hong Kong—and later South Korea—reinvigorated the shoot-’em-up genre with style and inventively choreographed chaos. Hollywood eventually caught on and co-opted its Eastern counterparts’ tricks, and if this Korean thriller is any indication, we’ve finally come full circle. Crammed to the gills with CGI fireballs and elaborate Mission: Impossible set pieces, Kwak Kyung-taek’s mash-up of globe-trotting espionage clichs adheres so closely to Tinseltown’s summer-movie template that the film could pass as its own American remake.
The pitch: A modern-day pirate (Jang) steals some top-secret goods. A naval officer (Lee Jung-jae) with a penchant for playing shirtless football on the beach is out to get them back. A nefarious scheme involving weather balloons, toxic spores, the pirate’s sister (Lee Mi-yeon) and the titular disaster ensures that things will go bang and boom in good time.
Foreign-film reinterpretations usually distinguish themselves with regional spices, but apart from the subtitles, there’s nothing to differentiate this import from any number of bland blockbusters that roll off our own assembly lines. The photogenic hero still poses, the vengeful villain still sneers, and every tte--tte comes accompanied by the requisite philharmonic at full blare. (Opens Fri.)—David Fear