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The last time director Kwak Kyung-taek and megastar Jang Dong-kun worked together, it was on an unconventional sort of blockbuster. 2001’s Chingu (“Friend”), the highest grossing South Korean film of all time, was basically a testosterone-addled take on the chick flick, as notable for its unrestrained violence as it was for its over-the-top emotionalism. It fit in well with the films that have put Kwak’s homeland in the Asian-cinema spotlight of late, from Park Chan-wook’s pulpy vengeance dramas to Kim Ki-duk’s brutal psychological investigations. So it’s a shame to see Kwak and Jang going more, well, international in their latest. A lame imitation of American action movies right down to the line “You and I—we’re the same,” Typhoon casts Jang as Sin, a scraggly refugee-turned-terrorist intent on righting a perceived wrong by dirty-bombing on the whole of South Korea. Standing in his way is Gang Se-jong (Lee Jung-jae), an ultrapatriotic supercop hot on his trail. It’s a simple enough premise, but with the cat-and-mouse game spanning 124 minutes as well as multiple countries and languages—five, to be exact, with Jang delivering the bulk of his dialogue in Thai—the story can’t help but be convoluted. In the process, Kwak delves into Michael Bay territory, cramming the frame with car chases, explosions, and nausea-inducing handheld camerawork. Unlike the nostalgia-infused Chingu, Typhoon never stops to take a breath. The best we get is a flashback illustrating Sin’s plight as a North Korean refugee, but sandwiched into the tumult as it is, the backstory hurts more than helps the narrative. On the plus side, when the action does let up, Kwak’s longtime cinematographer, Hong Kyeng-pyo, uses an abundance of natural light, giving even the film’s omnipresent overcast skies an ethereal beauty. And as a leading man, Jang has the feral, occasionally hammy intensity of a young Toshiro Mifune, somehow managing to elicit sympathy for his single-minded megalomaniacal villain. Alas, the climactic battle contains all the clichés and more: dangling chains, dripping water, walls of fire—even a mine-is-bigger-than-yours knife fight. If it keeps turning out stuff like this, could South Korea possibly remain the future of Asian cinema? Put it this way: Thailand, you’re on in five. —Jason Powell