|Actress Lee Jung-hyun in a scene from the film, 'Limit' / Courtesy of JNC Media Group|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
Lee Jung-hyun has shown the ability to play all kinds of characters in any manner of film. She has appeared in both solid films with serious topics such as "Alice in Earnestland" (2015) and spectacular films like "Peninsula" (2020).
"Limit" stars Lee as So-eun, a police detective who, at one time, was the best among her peers in hunting down criminals. But a traumatic experience that left a victim dead in one case made her step back and just take emergency calls or patrol the neighborhood ― that is, until one day the police get a call from a couple whose child has been kidnapped.
So-eun goes undercover to help the parents locate their abducted child. However, the kidnappers soon find out that So-eun is not the child's real mother. Infuriated by the fact that Soe-un has been fooling them, they kidnap her own son, too. So-eun then finds herself in a tense psychological battle with the abductors and goes on a solo mission to get her son back.
The crime thriller is directed by Lee Seung-jun, best known for "The Spy: Undercover Operation" (2013), and is based on a script by the late Hisashi Nozawa, the Japanese screenwriter and mystery novelist.
"Limit" follows some familiar aspects of a typical thriller film. There is a tight script that focuses on the abduction and the cat-and-mouse game between So-eun and the kidnappers as she tries to figure out the location of her son and the identity of the kidnappers.
The plot is underscored by the critical issue of missing children. It explores how trafficking occurs in pediatric surgical settings. In this way, the film is pretty narrow in its focus. But it mostly works because Lee is able to carry her time on screen.
"Like every mother would do, So-eun moves from a place of instinct and cannot stop until she saves her son. I always got cuts and bruises during the filming because I did most of the stunts. I filmed the fight scene on the mountain for about three days," actress Lee said.
"I also wore minimal makeup and drew freckles on my face. I purposefully tried to look as ugly as possible," she added.
There are other notable cast members in "Limit." Jin Seo-yeon stars as the woman whose daughter is kidnapped. She plays the part well, looking terrified but hiding something. And then there is Moon Jeong-hee as Hye-jin, the woman doing the kidnapping with her henchmen.
Although the story is just plausible enough to keep the viewer engaged, it is not a "must-see in theaters" type of film because it is not so visually spectacular or inventive. The henchmen, played by Park Myung-hoon and Park Kyung-hye, appear too weird and obscure and that may leave the audience wondering if their roles were necessary for the film.
"Limit" will hit local theaters on Aug. 31.