The Berlin File (Bereullin) (2013)

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Released 19-Nov-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller/Action Trailer-The Captive
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 115:41
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Seung-wan Ryoo
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Ha Jung-woo
Han Suk-kyu
Ryu Seung-beom
Gianna Jun
Lee Kyoung-young
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Korean filmmaking is so vibrant and successful it is no surprise to find that Korean directors are expanding into making English language films, such as Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) or Kim Jee-Woon (The Last Stand), or filming in overseas locations such as this film, The Berlin File (original title Bereullin), an exciting espionage thriller set in Berlin.

     As The Berlin File starts North Korean Hero of the Republic and spy Pyo Jong-seong (Ha Jung-woo) is in a Berlin hotel room negotiating an arms deal with a Russian and an Arab. The meeting has been betrayed and is being watched by the South Korean secret service lead by Jeong Jin-soo (Han Suk-kyu), Mossad and the North Koreans themselves. But the trap is sprung too soon and amid gunfire Pyo escapes. The North Koreans suspect there is an informer within their Berlin embassy and agent and assassin Dong Myeong-soo (Ryu Seung-beom), a man with high political connections, is sent to Berlin from Pyongyang. The finger of suspicion points at Pyo’s wife Ryoen Jung-hee (Gianna Jun), a translator at the embassy who is closely associated with the Ambassador (Lee Kyoung-young). But it seems that Dong has an agenda of his own and Pyo finds himself branded a traitor and hunted by Dong, the South Koreans, the Americans and by the Arabs, who believe Pyo betrayed the arms deal. Pyo’s must try to stay alive, protect his wife and discover what is really at stake in Berlin.

     The Berlin File is a well-made and interesting espionage thriller. The film does include a number of chaotic and explosive action sequences, both hand to hand and involving firearms. But the main focus is on the mystery as both Pyo Jong-seong and Jeong Jin-soo in their own ways try to find out what is behind the betrayals and double crosses. Here Ha Jung-woo, who won best actor at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong for his role in The Yellow Sea (2010) and was also very good in The Chaser (2008) (both very good Korean films which I have reviewed on this site) is excellent as he unravels the puzzle and his scenes with Gianna Jun as his wife, which could have been melodramatic, work to ground the film and give a poignancy to the climax that otherwise may not have worked as well. Lee Kyoung-young as the ambassador also makes the most of his role; the only misstep for me was Ryu Seung-beom, who makes Dong rather a one note villain.

     With the combination of puzzle and action, The Berlin File is akin in tone to The Bourne Identity. It is interesting, well made, the Berlin locations are good, the action explosive and there are characters to care about.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Berlin File is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     Filmed using Red Epic digital cameras, the film is very sharp and finely detailed. Colours evince a glossy digital look but are fine, blacks are exceptional and shadow detail very good, which is just as well as there are a lot of night scenes and scenes in darkened spaces. Brightness and contrast are consistent and skin tones fine.

     I noticed some ghosting against mottled background such as the grain field and occasional aliasing, but otherwise artefacts and marks are absent.

    English subtitles are available in a white font. They are clear and easy to read and I only noticed a couple of minor grammatical errors. They also did not remain on during the sections of English dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps although there are sections of English and German dialogue.

     The audio is good, and appropriate for the film. Dialogue is generally OK, although some sections of English dialogue spoken by the Koreans were a bit hard to understand. The surrounds and rears were used for music and some ambience but burst into life dramatically during the action sequences with gunshots, hits, explosions and the impact of punches and kicks. The sub-woofer supported the action scenes, explosions and the music.

     I cannot find a composer credit for the film; the score is diverse, moody and quite effective.

     Lip synchronisation fine.

     The layer chance was not noticeable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailer

     A trailer for The Captive (2:00) plays on start-up. It cannot be selected from the menu.

    There are no other extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 3 Korean DVD is a two disc set with a diverse range of extras including commentaries and extensive behind the scenes and making of featurettes. However, while the feature has English subtitles, the extras do not, making them of limited value to non-Korean speakers. The Region 1 US DVD has an English dub for those who do not like subtitles, deleted scenes and a featurette; however, the aspect ratio is listed in reviews as a cropped 1.78:1. That being so, our Region 4 release would be the preferred version for English speakers.

Summary

     Korean cinema continues to expand its scope and locations in this well made espionage thriller. With its combination of puzzle and action I was reminded of The Bourne Identity so if you are interested in films of that type, and don’t mind reading subtitles, The Berlin File is definitely worth a look.

     The video and audio are good. A trailer for another film is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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