K-Movie Review: Netflix’s “Seoul Vibe” Delivers A Frivolous, Nostalgic and An Enjoyable Flick Set in the Late 80’s
Yoo Ah In, Go Kyung Pyo, Lee Kyu Hyung, Park Ju Hyun, and Ong Seong Wu are misfits tangled in a mission to take down corrupt former officials.
Seoul Vibe is the latest Korean movie offering from Netflix. It premiered on the streaming platform on August 26. The movie follows the members of Sanggye-dong Supreme Team as they found themselves embroiled in a classified and dangerous mission involving (former and current) government officers.
Seoul Vibe Quick Overview
The movie takes viewers back to 1988 Seoul. This was the time when the country hosted the Summer Olympics. It was also the time the government was transitioning to a new political rule. Siblings Park Dong Wook (Yoo Ah In) and Park Yoon Hee (Park Ju Hyun) manage a custom car garage. John (Go Kyung Pyo), Bok Nam (Lee Kyu Hyung), and Joon Gi (Ong Seong Wu) complete their inner circle.
Their dynamic work very well as each has a specific role to play, both in their day jobs and shenanigans. Dong Wook is the team’s de facto leader and best driver. Meanwhile, Bok Nam is their navigator. John is pretty much in charge of their mixtapes and their social connection (as a DJ). Joon Gi is the youngest and resident MacGyver and Yoon Hee, the motorcycle-loving only girl in their clique, keeps everyone in line.
The quintet shared their love for cars and anything American, as well as their penchant for not toeing the lines. They have been known to the authorities. The movie opened with Dong Wook and Joon Gi making a “delivery” in Saudi Arabia.
Much like the atmosphere of 1988, changes are happening, and the country’s hosting of the Summer Olympics brought in a major shift. South Korea at the time has also just come out of a military dictatorship. The former ruler, General Jeon (Baek Hyun Jin), along with his allies Kang In Sook (Moon So Ri) and Lee Hyeon Gyun (Kim Sung Kyun) is scheming to secure their plundered money.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Ahn Pyeong Wook (Oh Jung Se) set out to get back the money for the new government. He also wants to put an end to the former dictator and his allies’ criminal conduct. This is when he made contact with the Sanggye-dong Supreme Team.
With a promise of expunging their criminal records and issuing them U.S. visas, the gang agreed. As their lives and freedom are at stake, the team worked hard together, with the help of a childhood friend-slash-rival Galchi (Song Mino) and his gang, to thwart General Jeon and Chairwoman Kang’s plans.
Seoul Vibe Takeaway
The plot is banal and the setting trite, but it did not mean it lacked entertainment value. The movie was enjoyable as the actors played their characters well. Galchi and Dong Wook’s pseudo-rivalry was fun to witness. MINO did great in his film debut as Galchi is such a loveable character.
Yoo Ah In is a given, there was no doubt he would deliver as Dong Wook. Go Kyung Pyo, Park Ju Hyun, Lee Kyu Hyung and Ong Seong Wu (who also made his movie debut) have all given justice to their respective characters. The antagonists, Moon So Ri and Kim Sung Kyun, and the supporting characters all did well in bringing the roles to life.
South Korea really has mastered encapsulating the sight, sound, and feel of any period film or drama they produce. Seoul Vibe is no exception. From the movie’s visuals, which are aesthetically pleasing, to its music and props (not a car enthusiast, but those classic cars featured in the film are appealing) are all to laud. All the elements combined to present a reliable trip back to that certain time.
Seoul Vibe was not deep, and it was not meant to be. It was your straight-up caper film set in the late 1980s featuring a group of mavericks dreaming of having a new life in a country far more different from their own. It just happened that to do so, their lives were put at risk. Yet somehow, they managed to save the day and add more flavor to their already exciting and adventure-filled lives.
If you want cars, exploits, and a retro expedition back to 1988, then this movie is a must-see.
Seoul Vibe is currently streaming on Netflix.
*All photos courtesy of Netflix