Moss Review

Perhaps best known for his Public Enemy trilogy, Woo-Suk Kang has chosen to now tackle the adaptation of the popular internet comic Moss. The story of Moss is built around an intricate series of secrets and lies that are uncovered by Hae-guk (Park Hai-il) following the death of his father. Traveling to the village where his father passed away Hae-guk encounters a strange group of shady characters led by the villain of the piece, Yong-deok (Jung Jae-young) and slowly the hermetic creation of Yong-deok is pulled apart.

The film mixes present day scenes with flashbacks to help reveal elements of the mystery and flesh out the characters more. Because of these flashback scenes the actors are aged considerably for the present day sequences and Jae-young is particularly remarkable as both the young and old Yong-deok.

He is one of few highlights in Moss though which relies heavily on a twisting and turning narrative that just isn’t interesting enough and ends with a reasonably predictable and slightly lazy finale. Before getting to this finale though there are two and a half hours of plodding story to get through and there is nothing that really creates the intrigue that the film so desperately needs. At 163 minutes the film is actually probably too short though, condensing too much plot and character development to suit the cinematic adaptation of what is most probably much longer and richer material. Woo-Suk Kang needed to either commit more condensing the source material significantly and effectively to create a tight film or spreading the story out over more films or perhaps even a TV series.

Dealing with interesting themes such as the clash of the new and old South Korea, highlighted by the countryside/city clash and the feudal reference points, Moss unfortunately also only touches on what could have made for a fascinating thematic underpinning.

A slightly different version of this review was originally posted at HeyUGuys.