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Kim Joo-hyuk’s energetic performance to be a factor in ‘Believer’

It has been half a year since Kim Joo-hyuk passed away in a car crash, but the Korean actor’s character acting has left a lasting impression via his filmography.

“Believer,” directed by Lee Hae-young, is a crime action film that will give the audience one of the last -- and supposedly the most impressive -- glimpse of his talents.

“He is the most heated character, and it is impossible to know what his boiling point is. He makes the others nervous as he is impossible to predict,” said director Lee on Kim’s character Ha-rim during a press conference for the movie on Thursday.

The cast of “Believer” pose for photo during a press conference in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
The cast of “Believer” pose for photo during a press conference in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Kim plays the villain, a bigshot in the Asian drug market, who is promoted to the most vicious character of them all. The movie follows a detective Won-ho -- Cho Jin-woong -- and his effort to take down an international drug cartel. He conspires with a former gang member “Rock” and Yeon-ok -- played respectively by Ryu Jun-yeol and Kim Sung-ryung -- in the process.

Lee explained that Kim has discussed every single detail of the character with him in the pre-production, indicating Kim’s devotion.

“Kim has played the villain several times before and I’ve seen him pull off many strong performances. But the moment he shot his first scene was so exciting and awesome that I couldn’t help but drop my jaw in awe,” he said.

The film is a remake of Hong Kong crime thriller “Drug War” by Jonnie To. It marks the first time Lee is at the helm of a film venturing into the action, crime genre. A sexual minority himself, Lee in the past had focused more on telling the stories of the misunderstood.

“It is a different film than what I’ve worked on before. I used the part of the brain that I’ve never used before as I wrote the scenario for and directed ‘Believer.’ It felt like making my first movie,” he said.

Cho, playing the tenacious investigator who will stop at nothing to take down the drug ring, describes the movie as a film with very strong characters.

“It is a story about very vicious people, which is why it looked interesting and pulled me in,” he said. Cha Seung-won, one of the biggest names in the credits, said his character will leave a strong impression in the short screen time he has.

Director Lee also revealed that he changed the character of Yeon-ok -- originally a man – and a huge chunk of the scenario specifically to cast Kim, adding that the change would contribute to shatter some of the movie cliches.

“Believer” opens in local theaters on May 24,

By Yoon Min-sik

Korea Herald daum