Secretly, Greatly is billed as an action-comedy. But, the first half of the film is comedic, with the lead character acting foolish and funny. However, right from the start, the viewers know he is just pretending to be stupid, as he makes many mental calculations on all possible permutations of events in his head. Such a double life requires a lot of dedication and perseverance. Secretly, Greatly tells a captivating story of three young man, trained to be killing machines, sent to South Korea as spies and assimilate into the local society. While they await further instruction from the party, they forge a friendship with the local community.
The second half of the film turns into a adrenaline fuelled action film, with much brutal fist fights and valiant defiance of orders. It is presented so well, that it keeps people captivated with the three men’s psychological struggle and physical struggle. They manage to take down tens of tough guys in fist fights normally is unrealistic and even annoyingly silly, but in “Secretly, Greatly” their seemingly omnipotent fists provide something for viewers to marvel at. Maybe it is because they are not just fighting for the sake of fighting, but fighting for survival, both physically and ideologically against a tyrannical regime. The interspersed subplot about the idiot’s longing for his mother is very touching. In the three men’s native country, people are brainwashed to believe that the party is way more important than their blood family. Hence there is a constant deep seated struggle; and their longings could never be fulfilled. The plot is profoundly powerful towards the end of the film, when everything culminates to an emotional and action climax.
This had my attention most of the way through but thought the build up and interaction between the characters could have been better for the ending to leave more of a impact. And for there to be a bit more action between scenes but that is just my opinion. And even the ending which is probably the ending in the webtoon seems to be a bit abrupt and out of nowhere and maybe even a bit rushed. Like I said, I think there should have been elements which lead to more of a attachment to the lead characters. But it does have enough good elements to make it a entertaining summer film from Korea. It would have been better if they polished up on those good areas though. Hollywood has DC and Marvel, well this is another Korean movie based on a webtoon that is adequate.
I am sure that if this movie were made in America, it would win many Oscars. Of course then it wouldn’t be the same movie. I hope it at least comes up as a best foreign film nominee. Going from working as an assistant director to one of the most well-known, most controversial filmmakers of all time and debuting with a much-praised film, it seems quite odd that he chose to do this movie as his next step. Also, in addition to being insanely good looking, Kim actually has what it takes to be a bonafide actor and it’s quite disappointing to hear that his next project will be another TV series. There aren’t too many actors his age that have that much talent in South Korea, so here’s hoping he will be given more chance to shine in the near future.