A car salesman is trapped inside a collapsed tunnel. As the team faces incredible odds to set him free time starts running out. Underground, our hero faces psychological torment, food and water deprivation.
On the surface his wife and the team of rescuers face incompetence from the officials, plus corruption and social injustice. What is the cost of one man’s life? And when is the right time to sacrifice it for the greater good?
South Korean director Kim Seong-Hun is a master of genre blending (his previous thriller HARD DAY is the best example of that). Here he gives us a mix of a disaster movie, a thriller, a family drama and a social commentary on the modern life in South Korea. Every element is a perfect dose. We are given as much detail of the rescue mission, as the hero’s struggle in the tunnel, switching from time to time to the dramatic journey of his wife, who is under pressure to give up the search and let go of the idea of her husband’s rescue.
The film does not have many visual effects, but when disaster occurs it is both effective and scary. The grand finale is much more focused on dramatic elements than on a big bang rescue and of the role each character plays in the outcome.
THE TUNNEL is two hours long and with mainly three characters at play, it manages to keep the tension going all the way, introducing a few droplets of humor to lighten up the dark moments. The funny bits mostly involve a dog – a pug – the character’s only companion in his underground jail.
Reading the synopsis of THE TUNNEL one would have a feeling that such a movie had already been made, in fact, many times over. But this ambitious Korean flick is extremely well written, acted and shot. Boasting all the qualities a summer blockbuster should have, it has a dramatic and emotional impact, which is a pleasant surprise for a movie with such a premise.