Chungmuro/Film Reviews
Movie Review: The Client
by | April 22, 2012 | 55 Comments

Considered the first Korean courtroom thriller to hit the big screen, The Client is a commanding cerebral experience headlined by three acting heavyweights and a taut storyline that will keep you guessing, or at the very least second-guessing, until its explosive finale. It premiered to critical and box office success, taking second place to The Crucible for three straight weeks, and remained the tenth highest-grossing film in domestic box office sales for 2011.

Ha Jung-woo puts in a commanding performance as a defense attorney unsure of his client’s guilt, alongside Park Hee-soon and Jang Hyuk, who play prosecutor and defendant, respectively. This movie rises and falls on the intensity of its star power and certainly delivers in spades on that front, though it doesn’t skimp on the details either. A sophomore effort by director Sohn Young-sung, The Client delivers plenty of thrills despite its limitation to the courtroom setting and keeps the scenes alive and moving. There isn’t a boring moment to be had, even if it’s not constant edge-of-your-seat entertainment. It’s an exercise for the heart and mind as we essentially become the jury in a film that doesn’t necessarily set new bars for the classic courtroom mystery, but one that does what it sets out to do and then some. Simply put, if you enjoy a good whodunit and compelling performances, you’re in the right place.

The premise of The Client doesn’t seem all that astounding to anyone who’s watched a courtroom thriller before, though as they say, it’s all in the execution. We’ve got a murder with no body and a prosecutor who may be more than he seems on the surface, doing everything in his power to put our suspect away for good. It seems like a clear-cut case, only all the evidence is circumstantial. Add a defense lawyer to the mix and we get a lovechild of a murder mystery and a foray into the delicate ins and outs of the legal system, which is surprisingly alike to any you’ll see in American courtroom dramas.

I was initially concerned that we’d spend almost the entire film in a courtroom, which can be plenty engaging but would put an incredibly heavy burden on the writing/acting/directing trifecta to keep things moving along. We get our fair share of courtroom scenes as expected (mostly toward the end), and to my surprise they were nail-bitingly good. Thus we had a very assured sense of pacing and story with just the right amount of reveals in a film that works well to manipulate us as the audience into thinking one way, only to slap us over the head with what we weren’t expecting. It’s not entirely unpredictable, but the twists and turns are handled deftly. It probably doesn’t hurt to have such a great cast, either.

It’s definitely an intellectual thriller that poses moral and ethical questions to the audience as if we were the jury, and has no qualms about throwing us into the middle of the action with the hopes that we’ll figure out who’s who eventually. That being said, I thought it was smart of the film to only give us glimpses as to who the real jurors were, so that by the end of the trial the prosecution and defense are delivering their closing speeches to us, really – and we never really know much more than the jury does. It’s what makes the whole experience so fun – we’re allowed to come up with our own theories, we’re influenced by the passionate arguments of both sides, and in the end we’re given the truth. For some it might be mind-blowing, for others expected, but it’s the journey more than the end result that’s satisfying.

Our first character introduction is to our “client,” HAN CHUL-MIN (Jang Hyuk), who comes home for his anniversary to find his apartment swarming with police. He makes it to the bedroom door, flowers for his wife in hand, only to find the bed soaked in blood so fresh that it’s still dripping off the comforter and onto the floor. His face remains emotionless even as he’s cuffed and dragged away by the police.

He’s our central enigma, since he seems like a simple man with a simple life at first – though once again, everything isn’t as it seems. Immediately upon arrival to the prison we get a glimpse into his character as he tries and fails to hang himself by using a trash bag as a noose. He garners our sympathy while he garners public scorn, since the prosecution is quick to decry him as the obvious murderer of his wife, despite there being no body and no murder weapon. Only blood.

It’s unsettling that he has such a poker face, though we can attribute it to shock and denial. Naturally we want to join the bandwagon in pointing the finger at him, but the beginning of the film does a bang-up job at establishing the world as being out to get him. Is he a murderer because he’s a quiet man? Is he one because he has no fingerprints? Or is there a greater conspiracy involved?

That truth isn’t as important to our charismatic defense lawyer, KANG SUNG-HEE (Ha Jung-woo), who openly claims to the press that sorting out the truth is the prosecutor’s job. At first he’s reluctant to take on the case, though the promise of money and a way out of his downward-trending record eventually signs him on to Chul-min’s case. His performance is the centerpiece of the film, and he’s simply excellent as an incredibly intelligent yet easygoing lawyer.

What we glean from his backstory is that he once was a prosecutor, though he had to quit because he became too emotionally involved in a previous murder case and got violent. Sung-hee isn’t necessarily a justice hound, though what’s presented as more of a laissez-faire attitude toward the beginning quickly changes as he becomes more and more invested in Chul-min’s case.

Sung-hee truly commands the screen as he plays both detective and lawyer, which is such an interesting Good Guy turn since the last role I saw him in (a psychopath in 2008′s thriller The Chaser). As Chul-min eventually tells him, Sung-hee is his last hope.

He has an inevitable rivalry against humorless prosecutor AHN MIN-HO (Park Hee-soon), a man who remains almost as much of an enigma as Chul-min throughout the film. What we do know about him is that he is dead set on putting Chul-min away for good – though the ‘why’ of it isn’t revealed until the midpoint.

At first his insistence that Chul-min is guilty seems almost too thick-headed, which had me pulling more for Sung-hee, who seemed to be more open-minded about different possibilities. It doesn’t help that Min-ho works hard to hide evidence from Sung-hee, though their relationship is built on grudgingly mutual respect – a perfect backdrop for them to go head to head in the courtroom.

What’s nice about this movie is that it’s lean and fast – no extras, no filler subplots. Everything is written in a way to advance the plot or to give the audience red herrings, since we’re inevitably led by the director to where he wants us to be during the film. (Although it’s a nice touch that when we get red herrings, our characters do too.) We mostly remain just as confused as they are, though we inevitably live the experience more through Sung-hee, since he’s just naturally more accessible than Min-ho.

Playing a pivotal role in helping Sung-hee is JANG HO-WON (Sung Dong-il), who I was extremely happy to see in a much more toned down (yet no less important) role. He acts as a sort of case broker to Sung-hee along with being a jack of all trades who isn’t afraid to do some dirty work (though none of it is really that illegal or dirty, just a bit harder) to get what Sung-hee needs. The same goes for a paralegal assistant on Sung-hee’s team, though her quest to garner evidence by buying it lands her boss in some hot water later on.

There’s an important moment at the beginning of the film which sets the stage for the Sung-hee/Chul-min relationship. While asking Chul-min some basic questions about his life, Chul-min interrupts to ask the question that proves to be one of the running themes through the movie: “Do you believe me?”

Sung-hee takes this question as if it were nothing, as though it’s something anyone would ask. He nonchalantly replies, “Pretty much. I believe everybody.”

Whether he actually does or not is another story. I’m more inclined to believe that he’s more willing than someone like Min-ho to give people the benefit of the doubt. Things get murky being a defense lawyer, naturally, though Sung-hee isn’t an amoral man only out to win. It’s clear that he believes he’s doing the right thing, simply because there’s no evidence to sustain the prosecution’s claim.

He gets caught up in a possible conspiracy by the prosecution to sweep Chul-min under the rug as quickly as possible. They’re hiding essential CCTV footage that could prove another man went to the apartment the night of the murder, and the timeline is strange. The police showed up to the crime scene inordinately fast, and had Chul-min arrested in no time at all.

There’s also the matter of a candle that was clearly lit after the supposed time of death (which is measured by how the blood coagulated – but once again, no body). Who lit the candle, if Chul-min only came home once the police were already there?

A big wrench is thrown into Sung-hee’s truth-seeking in the form of a black envelope delivered inside his apartment. The camera begins to tilt as he starts reading it, which is a nice view into how Sung-hee’s formerly straight-laced perspective is skewing because of what he sees.

And what that is sends him hurtling into a spiral of self-doubt. It’s a bunch of files on Chul-min, who was a previous suspect for the brutal murder of a high school girl. Once again though, he was released due to a lack of evidence, no matter how much the police were sure he was the culprit. Why? Because he never emoted, never cracked, and only quietly protested his innocence. Three days of harsh interrogation proved nothing, so he was released.

Here’s the thing about Chul-min – the files are supposed to help damn him, but a flashback to the interrogation shows him as a very simple, possibly misunderstood man. We’ve then got two options for how to perceive him, with either being completely valid at this point; either he’s a criminal mastermind pulling one on everyone, or just an incredibly simple-minded schmuck who was wrongly accused both times.

Either way, we find out an interesting tidbit – Min-ho was the prosecutor for the high school girl’s case. He was convinced of Chul-min’s guilt then, so this opportunity is now-or-never for him to nab the killer, which explains his extreme doggedness in winning the case.

Sung-hee goes through a moral crisis, with the files having done their job by throwing into question his beliefs about Chul-min’s innocence. It effectively makes Sung-hee more relatable and more of a hero figure – he’s not just a defense attorney out for money, after all. He wants to do the right thing.

So we’re with Sung-hee when he doubts Chul-min, and then we’re with him when he confronts Chul-min about the previous suspicion, who seems contrite that he kept the information. It’s just that he didn’t think it would do him any good.

This is when Sung-hee finally asks, “You did it, didn’t you?” Chul-min’s poker face starts to fade into something more like sorrow. “The way you look at me, it’s no different from the way others do.” Everyone else thinks he’s guilty, but he can’t even accept the fact that his wife is dead without seeing a body. He didn’t kill his wife, he claims.

Even though Sung-hee has doubts, one thing is for sure – the police told Chul-min’s wife that they thought her husband was a killer, and it affected her deeply. She was being treated for depression because of it.

So that then throws doubt onto police procedurals, and once again, as to whether Chul-min is a victim or not.

We do get a nice moment between our lawyers when Sung-hee’s paralegal helper, against his advice, attempts to buy the CCTV footage that she believes will prove Chul-min’s innocence. It turns out to be a trap by the prosecution, so Min-ho expends the effort to try and take Sung-hee off the case. Is someone scared he might lose?

So they end up squabbling like two incredibly educated children in front of the judge, who’s like a grouchy father figure to both. It’s one of the lighter moments of the film even though it never delves into dark or depressing in the first place – and even more dark comedy is to be had when Sung-hee asks Min-ho’s father, a well respected senior lawyer, to defend him against his own sun.

Their argument goes to prove that this is as much about Chul-min’s innocence and guilt as much as it is about the legal system and all its various loopholes. As compelling a case as Min-ho has on an emotional level, the bottom line is that the evidence is all circumstantial. To make matters worse, Sung-hee tells the jury about Min-ho’s involvement in the high school girl’s case, presenting a possible conflict of interest that makes it seem as though Min-ho wants Chul-min to be guilty, even if he isn’t.

There are other added mysteries, like the extent of the police’s involvement with Chul-min’s wife after he was suspected of murder as well as his wife’s seemingly-crazy mother. The courtroom scenes afford us, to no surprise, the best sort of interaction between our opposing lawyers as we watch them try to outsmart each other. Neither of them is in it for the glory, or for the pride of winning. Sung-hee may have his doubts but he goes by the law, so doubts aren’t enough to convict Chul-min. Min-ho doesn’t see himself as accusing a possibly innocent man, he sees Chul-min as wholly guilty.

Unfortunately for Sung-hee, he keeps getting into trouble due to the actions of those trying to help him. First it’s his assistant trying to buy evidence, and next it’s jack-of-all-trades Ho-won, who’s tracked down an elderly man who claims to have seen Chul-min the night of the murder because he got into a hit-and-run with his deaf grandson’s bicycle. Though the old man and his son seem to be a red herring at first (and Min-ho has the grandfather thrown out on the basis that he was promised payment for his testimony), they prove to hold the true keys to solving the case.

I love that Sung-hee and Min-ho adapt to each other, since that’s just plain necessary in a court battle like this. Because Min-ho has to rely on emotion and motive more than hard evidence, Sung-hee takes him to school on his own game by using Chul-min’s emotions to work in his favor. The moment Chul-min takes the stand Sung-hee starts tearing into him about his avoidance of his wife even with her depression, and finally, Chul-min’s stoic poker face shatters as he breaks down in front of the jury.

What’s great about this moment (besides the acting) is that it comes at a pivotal time for us as the audience – since right up to that moment I had begun to slip back into doubt (after un-doubting, then doubting, then un-doubting again). Then we, like the jury, get treated to Chul-min’s moving monologue and are once again left wondering if he truly committed the crime, or not. The audience gets played by the lawyers just like the jury does, which is just plain fun.

The question then becomes less of a ‘Did Chul-min commit the murder?’ and more of a matter of legality. This is where it gets hard to read Sung-hee, and we don’t really get to figure out whether he put away his doubts before the closing arguments, or not. One thing is for sure – he’s not ready to damn Chul-min like everyone else, and believes in the legal system probably more than his rival.

Tensions inevitably rise between the two lawyers, who both believe they’re right. Sung-hee blames the police involvement for killing Chul-min’s wife, though the specifics are unknown. Min-ho claims that he’ll stake his life on Chul-min being the killer, and warns Sung-hee that he’s trying to let a guilty man walk. The bottom line still remains: there’s no evidence against Chul-min. And furthermore, Sung-hee asks the jury: “Is his wife really dead?”

And in one of the most brilliant moments of the film, and frankly any courtroom thriller I’ve seen in a while, is where Sung-hee tells the courtroom: “I’ll count to three, and his wife will walk in through the door.” Everyone turns around, and waits. “One… Two… Three.”

Did you look at the doors?

This careens us toward our ending, which is less about the verdict and more about how the law can be so easily manipulated – just like people. I’d argue that what happens from here on out is the best part of the film, while also serving as an organic culmination of all that’s come before it. It wasn’t unexpected on my end, but I still ate it up – I knew that was the point we’d get to, and only waited to see how the film planned to take us there. I wasn’t disappointed.

Even then, the end isn’t action-packed, the music isn’t intrusive, and for all the revelations it’s actually pretty quiet by relying more on talk than action. This would spell disaster if handled in less capable hands, but with such great acting talents the end, along with the entire film, is a sight to behold.

More than just an empty courtroom drama with stock lawyer characters, this film felt very well thought-out and was just as deftly executed. The cinematography was on par for the film, never going above and beyond the call of duty so that we were never distracted from what was happening on screen. Just like jurors in a court room I could feel when the script was manipulating us, but rather than being a cheap trick, it worked in the sense that manipulation was the name of the game. That’s really all that happens in a courtroom, when you get down to it – how well can the lawyers manipulate the jury?

Most courtroom procedurals will take the stance of allowing the audience to become the jury, so it’s hard to explain why it was a more rewarding experience in this film. Keeping secrets from the audience is key to a great reveal, though unlike most courtroom thrillers, I became invested in Sung-hee’s journey. His motives were never really ambiguous, he would simply go along with the flow as he saw fit. When he was lost, so were we – and when he finds out the truth, we’re right there experiencing the gravity of it with him.

I mentioned it before but it’s worth saying again – I have endless appreciation for how lean the story was. There were plenty of side characters that played their roles effectively, and I actually liked that the writers didn’t feel the need to pander to the audience – there wasn’t a place for romance in the movie, so there wasn’t any. You’d be hard pressed to say that a romance element is missing, because it was something I didn’t think of until after the movie was over – and I was more surprised than anything about the realization.

There’s a message to be gleaned in how we perceive others, how we trust them, who we can trust and why. Is it always better to doubt and be safe (Sung-hee) or does that make us too cynical (Min-ho)? Is it, like Sung-hee asks, more egregious to put one innocent man in jail than it is to let ten guilty men walk free?

The bottom line: A thoroughly engrossing and extremely well-executed courtroom thriller filled to the brim with stellar performances. Packs a classic twist ending, but one that doesn’t negate the sacrifices made to get there. Lean, mean, engaging. 9/10.

 
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55 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. sinflower

    Sounds good !! Gotta check it out !!

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  2. leonardswench

    This was film done RIGHT, all caps. It’s a must-watch and must-own for me, and I thought all 3 leads gave the performances of their careers.

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  3. tikaa

    creppy jang hyuk. nice movie, simple plot but still captivating

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  4. fyEk

    i watched this movie during my long flight a few days back.. i gotta say i felt something was wrong with the plot as the story progress, and i knew why when it came to the ending!.. luv the movie and the brilliant acting by the three main actors especially jang hyuk (i’m jang hyuk bias..hehe!)

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  5. violetish

    anyone care to tell me what happens??? lol

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    • 5.1 Rachel

      We wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone so I think you should go see it till the end! Haha.

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  6. Shiku

    I liked the movie but the most memorable scene for me was Jang Hyuk testifying. He was so good. The next scene with his lawyer at his apartment was so creepy. I really didn’t recognize Ha Jung Woo as the psycho killer in the Chaser, he was so creepy there. Question: I don’t know if its because of the particular movies I pick but I just find it curious that serial killers always strip down to the tidy whities when torturing their victims, why is that? Won’t their DNA get everywhere?

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  7. Kojo

    The countdown in the courtroom was a nice touch but it was actually taken from a 1987 Judd Nelson movie, From the Hip.

    The scene plays out exactly as it does in The Client right down to the outcome and what Min-ho tells Sung-hee.

    Overall The Client was a much better movie but since I saw From the Hip and thought that scene was the best thing about the movie, I was a little disappointed that not only did the scene play out the exactly same way but the dialog was taken verbatim from this previous movie.

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    • 7.1 leonardswench

      Having never seen that film, it has me curious, to say the list, and will have to watch both to see the similarities. If it’s truly verbatim, I hope someone got paid for that ….

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  8. lovepark

    The actors and the acting in the movie were fantastic. I’m completely biased towards Ha Jung-woo and Park Hee-soon but man, they’re good (plus, they look awesome in suits). The movie, overall, was okay. The plot and directing were fine, but I just wasn’t super engaged for some reason. I still can’t really pinpoint what it was exactly that didn’t really resonate with me, but maybe it has to do with sort of seeing the ending coming so it wasn’t as suspenseful or tense. However, I’d still recommend this movie to most people, and it’s a must watch for any fans of the three wonderful leads.

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  9. Ally

    Can someone mark a spoiler and please tell me the ending? dying to know. kamsahabnida :)

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  10. 10 hanie

    I just watched it few days ago. The cast, the storyline, are all good. It was so engaging and make me second guessing everything. The scene that creeps me out is when chulmin lays on that bloodied bed *shiver*.

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  11. 11 kyellee

    seriously, can someone make a spoilers post please? WHAT HAPPENS?!

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    • 11.1 K

      [SPOILER] Third to last picture..that’s your biggest spoiler right there….that’s when everyone turned around at 1, 2, 3

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      • 11.1.1 Yumi

        Got it.

        A wider shot would have been clearer.

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  12. 12 jiajia

    Ha Jung Woo always kills it in every role. love that man

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  13. 13 Noelle

    That whole trick with the telling everyone the wife will walk through the door, I’ve seen before on Boston Legal. It’s a smart move. It proves there is reasonable doubt. But it’s also a tell. I bet it ends the same way that BL episode did.

    Thank you so much for the movie review. Keep them coming!

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  14. 14 inggg

    one word: awesomeness.

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  15. 15 Dramafever

    I liked this movie. I thought the acting was superb but the plot kinda felt washed out on me. If one have watched the Bollywood film “Deewangee” which played around a very similar premise, you’ll understand the punch that “The Client” lacks.

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  16. 16 danna

    I enjoyed this movie and it definitely kept me on my toes for abou tthree quarters of the time…but somehow towards the end, especially after the countdown (or because of the countdown) It became predictable and then kind of lost steam for me..also a teensy weensy bit disappointed that we didn’t spend as much time in the courtroom or with the jury… maybe because its been a while since I’ve seen a good solid courtroom drama and went into the movie thinking that was what it was but it turned out be more of a suspense thriller
    other than that the movie was stellar, particularly the directing and the acting…especially Jang Hyuk…for the first time I actually thought he was a wonderful actor…I came in for Ha Jung Woo and Park Hee Soon (they were solid as expected) and left with the greatest impression of Jang Hyuk….his character was what kept me hooked and second guessing till the very end and if this guy was played in any other way I could’ve predicted the ending before half the movie was over but Jang Hyuk nailed every scene perfectly..going from vulnerable and pitiful to creepy and sadisitic all very smoothly and then back to sympathetic
    Also because I have like a million screencaps of him from this movie….its only right that I say what needs to be said: Park Hee Soon in a suit is HOTTTTTTTTTTTT

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    • 16.1 lovepark

      Ah! I completely agree with your comments.
      Jang Hyuk was great in his role as were the others.
      Your first paragraph pinpointed and reminded me of why I didn’t enjoy the movie as much because I sort of wanted more courtroom scenes with the lawyers going back and forth.
      Your last comment has me grinning from ear to ear. A million screencaps? Do share, please. I completely agree x1 million. Park Hee-soon is *swoon* (especially in a suit).

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      • 16.1.1 Dan

        Lol…i only capped JH and HJW 2-3 times….but I have like a ton of PHS ones in every angle imaginable….i swear he should be styled like this in every movie he’s going to be in…..you cant even tell that this is the same guy from Barefoot Dream

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        • 16.1.1.1 lovepark

          Park Hee-soon in The Client and Barefoot Dream looks completely different from the wardrobe to skin complexion. I was actually quite surprised how quickly he “de-tanned” from Barefoot Dream. I guess this is why I like him, though, as an actor. He’s so versatile and different in his roles (not only the two movies mentioned but A Million, Why did you come to my House?, The Scam, Bloody Fight, Evasive Inquiry Agency… he’s so different!), but I agree wholeheartedly, he should wear more suits just so we can ogle and swoon.

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    • 16.2 ripgal

      Agree. I’m a huge fan of both Ha Jung Woo and Jang Hyuk, and was expecting to be blown away by everything. Story and the acting. The actors did well, serviceable to their characters, but nothing much to rave about. I think the only WOW moment in the movie which struck me was Jang Hyuk’s final scene at the balcony, that was SHIT SCARY, and had goosebumps thru out. But other than that, I thought they were just good, not great. Park Hee Seon in particular, was wasted IMO.

      Perhaps I’d expected too much from this stellar trio, I felt the movie lacked fluid storytelling and execution. It became predictable half-way and I already half-guessed that they’d employ some twists at the end. And I totally agree that it would have been better had the court scenes been extended, didn’t feel much of a thrill seeing the lawyers battle in court, it lacked vigor and grit.

      Overall, this movie was OK. Not good enough in my eyes, but it’s just me.

      I’d give this a 6.5/10.

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  17. 17 ajewell

    I loved this movie – I just downloaded it on a whim, having no idea what it was about, and it kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end! Wonderful review – you nailed everything I loved about it, and even gave it the same rating I would have.

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  18. 18 Tha

    must watch! Saw this the other day and was blown away by the performance of Jang Hyuk alone! Three together. Even better!

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  19. 19 Stephanie

    Deewangee, from the hip, it’s nice to see how this is being compared to films from different countries :)

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  20. 20 hpn88

    I’ve been itching for a good legal thriller lately! This was just the ticket. Thanks for letting me know about this and the review!!

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  21. 21 anais

    Where is a good place to find online access to Korean movies? I wish Dramafever would carry more films.

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  22. 22 canxi

    I’ve been meaning to watch this for a while but kept forgetting. Thanks for the reminder and the review :D

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  23. 23 Goldie

    I had a chance to watch the movie at the theater when I visit Korea ..

    of course I understand nothing ..

    Once there is English sub launch .. I did Thai sub for it.

    2 Thumbs up !!

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  24. 24 syer

    I freakingly love this movie. I have no idea Ha Jung-woo can be this hot and sexy… I like the way he speak..

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  25. 25 indigowine

    hell yeah the moment when the lawyer said, “His wife will show up through that door, 1.. 2.. 3..” is one of the most brilliant scene ever.. and ‘fcourse the revelation after that *swoon*

    I still got shiver every time I remember the whole revelation, mostly done by the prosecutor..

    I’d say 9/10 as well xD

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  26. 26 Banu

    Watch this movie not long ago.. Loved it! Must watch!!!

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  27. 27 Spoilers-Galore-Ish

    SPOILERS!!!

    This is for those who have no plans to watch and have been asking for Spoilers. Warning: I watched this awhile ago so my memory is a bit fuzzy, meaning, I’m only including the bare essentials. My favorite part of the movie was when the defense lawyer did that 3-2-1 look to the door trick. After the defendant was found not guilty, the prosecutor informed the Defense lawyer that while everyone turned to look, the defendant didn’t; implying he knew his wife was already dead, so walking through the door would’ve been impossible. Turns out the Defendant really was a psychopath, and did kill his wife. His wife found evidence that he killed the high school girl, and since she was helping the police recover proof, he killed her to cover up his crime. In the end, the Defense lawyer figures it out, as well as where the body is buried, so he essentially hands over the proof the Prosecutor needs to convict the defendant after all. If I’m remembering correctly, he will be tried and convicted for the high school girl’s murder, since double jeopardy prevents him from going to jail for murdering his wife. End movie. Now I’m going to keep writing a bit so someone doesn’t actually read the last line and unintentionally spoil themselves. . . either way, great movie. I definitely recommend it.

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  28. 28 Thet

    first of all, i apologize for my weak English..

    i was surprised to see this movie review here right after i watched it haha.. superb acting from the casts.. love them all.. i become Ha Jung Woo fan officially after this movie..

    the countdown scene is one of my favorites here.. also the scene where Jang Hyuk break down into tears.. he can cry without making it like exaggeration and that’s probably why he is the 1st male actor to make me wanna cry along with him ( i love his cry in Deep Rooted Tree too! )

    the movie is engaging from start to end and i enjoyed it a lot.. but there’s some scenes that make me keep thinking about it

    (1)- at about in mid of the movie, after Ha Jung Woo show Jang Hyuk & his wife picture to the broker, in Jang Hyuk’s apartment after the murder, his wife is drinking water from bottle near the fridge, at 1st i thought the wife didn’t die, she was hiding in her apartment after disguising her own murder… but the ending says the otherwise.. so what’s the meaning of that scene?

    (2) – when Ha Jung Woo visit Jang Hyuk in his apartment, i saw a female sitting image in the mirror beside Jang Hyuk when Ha Jung Woo pass by him… i still holding my doubts of the wife being alive till then XD well, this must be one of the little mistakes of production team..

    but after all, i still love this movie & i would also give 9/10…

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    • 28.1 Annie

      SPOILERS! BIG SPOILERS!

      I rewatched the last parts of the movie just to see the second scene you were describing but did not see the the female sitting image. I am a sucker for details.

      This is my interpretation of the first scene and what it means. The yellow criminal tape over the door was clearly seen which sets the timing strictly after the murder and not before. The wife (who is now dead but we did not know then) is seen drinking water from the fridge which is also filled with food. I think what the message the director was trying to show was that if the wife was still alive by that point, she would need water, food and shelter. There would have been some indication where she is. But none of her close friends/family (crazy mom) has ever mentioned her/hidden her.

      It is much easier to hide a dead body quietly than a living breathing person. If she had lived and continued living at the apartment, there would be obvious signs. So the whole point of showing her drinking water shows it is highly unlikely she is still alive by that point in the movie no matter how much you think Jang Hyuk is innocent.

      Another interpretation is that her spirit is still staying there, waiting for the resolution.

      Another point I really liked is that when Ha Jung Woo interrogated Jang Hyuk about him hiding the fact that he had been questioned over the high school girl murder, Jang Hyuk only ever said he did not kill his wife. He did not say he did not kill the high school girl as well. A normal person will lose control of his emotions and exclaim how he did not kill ANYBODY. Being so specific means it was an act and not a true outpouring of emotion.

      With the foresight of watching the ending, little things become giveaways like how the grandfather said the car drove away before he could talk to the driver is telling as well. Jang Hyuk is supposed to be so tired, how could he drive off so fast if he had passed out? Of course, the story turned out to be a fabrication.

      All in all, a well-written movie but I could understand why it could not beat Crucible. The Client cannot induce the same emotions of anger and injustice as Crucible despite both movies showing that due process of law may not result in a verdict that delivers justice.

      SPOILERS ABOVE!

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      • 28.1.1 Thet

        oh yeah, now thinking about it, the food in the fridge will be gone long before if she’s actually hidden/hiding there.. so i like your idea that it must be the wife’s spirit waiting for justification.. and i re-watched the 2nd scene and the female image still there XD

        i watched the Crucible too right after the Client yesterday..
        wow, i’m glad to watch both great films in one day haha.. i recommend watching them to the rest who haven’t..

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    • 28.2 cayl

      your no 1 point . . .i thought the same thing

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  29. 29 Lise

    Ha Jung Woo, another fab performance besides H.I.T. really starting to like this man!

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  30. 30 Bengbeng

    i found the movie quite engrossing. WHODUNIT? watch it and you’ll surely enjoy this quite intelligent movie.

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    • 30.1 Ariel

      Just watched after reading the review, i was intrigued and I liked it. All 3 actors were superb but I what I like most was the relationship between Kang Sung-hee and Ahn Min-ho. Sung-hee had the balls to get Min-ho’s father as his lawyer against the CCTV tape fiasco. Seems like Sung-hee was the teacher’s pet ha ha ha and Min-ho’s a little jealous but i like their vibe at the end.
      Jang-hyuk was super creepy at the end of the film and what freaked me out was I had this firm belief that he was innocent and was being framed. He was great in this very restrained.

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  31. 31 cheekbones

    Watched it and loved it. Although I thought, surprisingly, Ha Jung-woo somewhat outshines Park Hee-soon in this one.

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  32. 32 Lavony

    loved it!!!!
    It was sooo good I actually wanted to see some more HJW films so I looked at his filmography couple of days ago and saw client. And I was meaning to watch it and I saw the review and without even reading it I just felt that it would be a good movie and surely it didnt disappoint.

    The whole 1,2,3 thing was sooooo cool! Like I was like has the lawyer gone crazy. Or was she really gonna walk through.

    SPOILERS BELOW:

    Well, to everyone who is curious. After the verdict, that Han Cheol Min was proven Not Guilty the prosecutor tells the defense lawyer that only Han Cheol Min didnt turn to look back. Later the lawyer goes HCM and gets him to confess that he did indeed kill the high school girl and his wife. He tried to kill himself but the lawyer caught him and than right at that momentum the police comes and arrests him. The ending see the lawyer and the prosecutor meet up at the dam (their was a picture of HCM and his wife took at the dam that you see repeated times throughout the film). The lawyer recorded his conversation with HCM and gives it too the prosecution. And the body was than found in the dam.

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  33. 33 Eked13

    I enjoyed the film and the performances for the most part (particularly Jang Hyuk towards the end). But it did make me wonder about the Korean court system. E.g. I thought the weakest parts of Vampire Prosecutor were the parts in court as it just seemed so badly written – just there for melodramatic set-ups without the remotest credibility in terms of disclosure or what witnesses were saying. I’d the same problem here. Either the balance of dramatic licence vs crediblilty has tipped way too far over into silliness or Korea has a genuinely weird-ass court system. So it looked like a weak construct for grand-standing scenes rather than a coherent court-room drama (not just in court – people taking key phone calls then striding about dramatically was rife). Although if it was using From the Hip as a template that might explain a lot!

    Yet it was a very enjoyable watch, silly though large chunks of it was. Pacing and performances were behind that, I think.

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  34. 34 ohemgee

    oh man. talk about kmovie wet dream.

    hahah

    i definitely need to see this though!

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  35. 35 Eeefu

    Thank you, HeadsNo2; so far, I have always been entertained to watch the movies you reviewed (or if I have watched it before your review, that movie deserved your fair review).

    This one is no exception. Thanks again.

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  36. 36 gracie

    thank you for this great review! im definitely going to watch it now:)

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  37. 37 kdwkyah

    a good watch! I’m new to the whole k-movie scene, so are there any movies worth watching which are just as engaging as the client?

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  38. 38 Songie

    Awesome review, @HeadsNo2! I love courtroom thrillers, so together with Ha Jung Woo, whose on-screen presence is incredible, i knew i would be watching this sooner or later. Thus, i’ve had this review bookmarked for almost a year, making sure i’d only read it after i saw the movie. I went into expecting more action in the court, but instead got something much more satisfying: audience inclusiveness. Not just how Kang and Ahn engages with “the jury”, but how we are drawn to constantly be in the same cycle of belief and doubt as Kang. The countdown scene was awesome, and what happens after that, even more. No one likes to be fooled, but when a narrative can achieve it, it’s a brilliant piece of work. “The Client” just so happens to be much more WOW given the excellent pacing of the script and the top-notch acting. Definitely a favorite of mine! Thanks~~!

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  39. 39 John

    Very exciting movie. As what many have mentioned, the classic is the 1-2-3 looking towards the door. I have some questions which I hope some can answer:
    1. Why does the psychopath choose the particular defendant lawyer? Is it deliberate?

    2. Did the psychopath bring back the tooth by mistake?

    3. Isn’t throwing down the wife’s body a big risk? Afterall, it is a residential building?

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  40. 40 Hong

    I just have one question that in the movie there is one scene around 1h 02 at the crime scene a lady was drinking water from the fridge. Was it the wife? Does it mean she was still alive? I really don’t get this at all.

    Does anyone notice?!

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    • 40.1 MeeisLee

      The comment at 28.1 by Annie has a pretty good interpretation on the scene in question. Maybe youll find it helpful :).

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  41. 41 MeeisLee

    Overall, I liked it. I’m not a mystery fan in particular but I’ve watched my fair share of courtroom/cop shows and this kept my interest throughout (comfortably sitting, I might add). Realistic story with understandable characters and believable end. Jang Hyuk was amazing (not that the other two weren’t but I was rallying in his defense so hard and then completely creeped out with that end scene). My favorite scene was hands down when Ha Jung Woo’s character gave his closing argument. I haven’t seen it done elsewhere so I thought it was genius.

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  42. 42 cayl

    1 2 3 paRt was done in boston legal i think dont exactli remember . . . the name of the series .but the acting was superb . .i was soooo engrossed with every scene that i barely think … .it was captivating. . .the defendant having such a poker face .. .i had lots of sympathy and faith for him .. i was betrayed at the end though!sung wook acting was magnificient . ..korean leonardo lol

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