I saw a preview of this on the Public Enemy DVD and it really piqued my curiousity. So I moved Guns & Talks up the queue and got it as soon as I could. It was a bit of a let down. The movie revolves around four young professional killers. Sang-yeon, played by Shin Hyun-joon, is the leader; Jung-woo, played by Shin Ha-gyoon, is the demolitions expert; Jae-young , played by Chung Jae-young, is the resident sniper and Sang-yeon’s little brother Ha-yeon, played by Won Bin, eagerly awaits the day when he is allowed to carry a gun. The foursome work out of their shared house, and their claim to fame is following the wishes of their clients down to the very last detail, literally. If the client wants someone’s left hand blown off, they’ll do it. If they want someone to die of lung cancer, they’ll find a way.
Despite their line of work, they are actually quite harmless and congenial when they’re not being assassins. They’re also pretty ignorant when it comes to all things not work-related. This leads to some absurd situations. They find themselves harassed by a high school girl who knows their true identity and insists that they kill someone who broke her heart, with Ha-yeon eventually falling for her. Jae-young is given the task of killing a pregnant woman, though he finds himself incapable of going through with it when he begins falling in love with his intended target. Meanwhile, Sang-yeon accepts a risky job from a television anchorwoman whom they all worship. And if things weren’t complicated enough, a public prosecutor named Cho is hot on their trail for the assassination of a witness.
Guns & Talks offers a cynic’s point of view on the sub-genre. Ha-yeon, the film’s narrator, ponders deeply about the morality of the work they do in his incessant voice overs, though it is obviously a joke when he begins tripping over words during his internal monologue. Another absurd moment occurs when Ha-yeon is overcome with emotion over Jae-young’s refusal to carry out a hit and begins to wax philosophically about the wonders of true love. Unbeknownst to him that the others were actually laughing at him and not crying.
Fans of Hong Kong actioner films will also find plenty to like in the visual dynamic that director Jang Jin injects into the proceedings. In addition to the usual blend of John Woo inspired slo-mo and ‘bullet-time’ action sequences, Jang shows that he has a few tricks of his own. In one sequence, which features Cho searching the quartet’s home for evidence, the screen is divided into three, with each third showing a different camera angle on Cho. However, as Cho begins his walkaround, it quickly becomes clear that each ‘angle’ is an entirely different scene, with each ‘Cho’ investigating a different part of the house. Jang also constructs an elaborate and well-shot assassination set piece that takes place during a performance of Hamlet at an opera house.
Unfortunately, the movie could have used some work in the ending, in which the character motivations, plot mechanics, and plain-old logic must jump through hoops in order to achieve the film’s impossibly happy ending. It seems as though Jang tried to tie up all the loose ends as quickly as possible, and it hurts the film.
Despite a weak ending, Guns & Talks is still a lot of fun to watch, due in part to the performances of the talented cast. I would say, give it a chance. It’s definitely better than a lot of other movies out there, it’s just not something that will blow you away.