Main cast: Kim Kang-Woo (Detective Jo Kyeong-yoon), Kim Min-sun (Detective Park Eun-joo), Lee Su-kyeong (Cha Soo-jin), Kim Sung-ryeong (Lee Hye-seo), Park Won-sang (Detective Kim), Oh Ji-young (Jung Mi-sook), and Jeon Chang-gui (Chief Detective)
Director: Yang Yun-ho
It all begins with a ghastly murder, with the victim slashed with a knife. A bunch of detectives, including our hero Jo Kyeong-yoon and his partner Park Eun-joo, are on the case, and things get heated up when the body count increases. In the meantime, Kyeong-yoon is asked by an old friend’s sister to locate this old friend. This request discomfits him, because our closeted hero is scared of the feelings he had for this friend. He’s now in a happy relationship with shop clerk Cha Soo-jin, after all. Well, things are going to get more complicated for our hero, because there is a strong possibility that his MIA friend may be involved in the murders.
This is a Korean movie, so expect plenty of maudlin melodrama ramped to the max. Characters pause in the middle of a scene to stare intensely into the distance, as a dramatic orchestra of profound sadness swells in the background. They deliver poetic lines about their broken feelings and wounded soul. And, of course, they always make the most dramatic decision, even if – especially if – this decision doesn’t make sense and there is a more mundane and down-to-earth solution available that will work better. The emo quotient is so high in this movie that it is rather disquieting to realize that comedy relief – and surprisingly good one too – comes in the form of a violent homophobic detective who nonetheless manages to deliver plenty of good lines that highlight how ridiculous this movie can often be.
The plot is actually predictable, but getting there is actually quite a fascinating process. There is something very compelling about the way these characters just brood and brood. Pretty boy Kim Kang-woo grows a goatee to show what a tortured emu his character is, and he pouts so nicely, I have to admit. Kim Min-sun plays a tough tomboy-type who harbors a one-sided crush on Kyeong-yoon. She is a nice foil to the more typical passive and submissive Soo-jin, although true to Korean-style gender politics, Soo-jin is the one who gets the guy while Eun-joo is forced to be “one of the guys”. Of course, Eun-joo gets her chance to do that “pensive deep stare while shedding a tear or two” thing too. It’s cosmic law that every main female character in a Korean movie has to do such scene at least once.
Ultimately, Rainbow Eyes is a movie about pretty people who brood, with the occasional not-so-pretty butt monkey characters showing up to crack a joke or two. The movie attempts to be a CSI-style state-of-the-art forensics drama, but while the fundamental plot is sound, the twists and turns can be ridiculous and often implausible. But that’s just par for the course: this movie is all about overwrought melodrama, and the twists function to introduce more of such.
The end result is like a pretty picture book with some emo poetry scribbled somewhere on each page. I won’t say that the movie is that good, but it is very easy on the eyes and some of the pathos, no matter how silly, can strike a chord with me now and then.