The movie that caught my attention this week is a nearly three-hour Korean flick called Moss that was spawned from a webcomic. Although the reviews I’ve read on the webcomic paint it as a dark look into the face of corruption, the movie, unfortunately, fell short of these praises. Even before I started the film, I dreaded the two hours and 42 minutes that it promised, as once you’ve started into such a long venture it can end up being a trial to make it all the way through to the end. Indeed, I had to take a couple of breaks from the film since it just wasn’t compelling enough to keep my interest for the entire run.
The basic premise comes in two stages. At first we get a look at the past, though that’s not spelled out to the audience immediately. There’s a corrupt, vigilante-like cop and a religious leader who meet under criminal circumstances and end up forming a partnership of a sort. After this brief introduction, the main movie commences, revolving around the religious leader’s son who goes off to a small town following the death of his father.
The village is filled with strange people who seem to want the main character to leave. They all defer to the words of a white-haired old chief of the village. Main guy decides to stay, discoveries clues that don’t add up and has village people trying to kill him along the way. What the movie tries to keep secret but really works to the detriment of the film is that the old white-haired chief is the vigilante cop from the first scene. The director even tries to hide the fact that the religious leader is the main character’s father for a while. The past is separated from the main bulk of the film and related in flashbacks only when the information is needed.
While this technique is useful in some movies, here it just fails. The mysteries that the director chooses to reveal are the more interesting ones. The question of whether these crazy villagers actually murdered the main character’s father is secondary to what’s going on around him. Still, that bit of information is held til the end of the film, and by that time I just didn’t care anymore.
Moss attempts to be a lot cleverer than it is and fails. The pacing is way off and honestly it felt more like I was watching some made-for-TV movie in the vein of a bad cop show. The climax of the film takes a long, drawn-out 20 minutes of stand-off and flashbacks and by the end of the scene you’ve almost forgotten what the point was. If the film could have been an hour shorter, it might have worked as a piece of cinematic filler. As it stands, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but the most diehard of cop/mystery/thriller fans.