On his way to his young daughter’s birthday party, a man becomes trapped in his car as a tunnel collapses around him. There’s no telling when or if help with arrive, and all he’s got are 2 bottles of water and a birthday cake to see him through. His wife finds out in the worst way imaginable and the Korean news is pretty ruthless in reporting the failure of a newly-built piece of infrastructure. The damage is so encompassing that the rescue will be a long-term affair and there’s no guarantee that a little water and cake will be enough to keep him alive until help arrives. Of course, that’s not even considering whether the panic and isolation might get him first – or if the poorly and hastily constructed tunnel might further deteriorate.

Jung-soo (Jung-woo Ha) is the man in the tunnel so of course this movie is his. As blunders delay the rescue and the national media loses interest, this poor guy is as alone fullsizephoto731941on this earth as anyone will ever be. He isn’t just going through a physical hardship, but a psychological one as well. Occasional glimpses of the rescue effort reminds us just how bleak his situation really is. Dae-kyoung (Dal-su Oh) is the only member of the rescue team truly dedicated to Jung-soo’s survival. Politicans are turning their backs and resources are drying up – are being redirected, in fact, to the construction of yet another tunnel. Meanwhile, Jung-soo’s wife, Se-hyun (Doona Bae) treads the fine line between hope and realism. This trio of actors give very fine performances. Tunnel ends up being more character-driven than action movie, and that’s a good thing. When the script demands it, the visual effects are there, but it’s Jung-woo Ha and co-stars who drive the story forward. It’s a story we’ve seen and heard before but writer-director Kim Seong-hun injects this with satirical elements that bring renewed interest to the genre.

Tunnel is perhaps overlong and could have benefited from some fat-trimming but I still really enjoyed it. It’s got some juicily angry scenes (Kim Seong-hun obviously has something to say about bureaucracy in general and his nation’s government in particular) and some surprisingly dark humour. You might not expect to chuckle through a disaster flick, but this one’s got a little bit of everything.


22 thoughts on “Tunnel

  1. reocochran

    Realism with good character development is meaningful. I like these occasionally and will probably find this one day on the Library staff recommends dvd film shelf! I would like to see this and think it has a unique twist to the disaster film plot. Thanks, Jay! 🙂



    Thanks for reviewing this. I noticed on Netflix and was debating checking this out. It sound like it’s worth the watch at least. And kinda sounds like 127 Hours… with birthday cake 😉


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  4. Chris Scott

    Korean cinema has been putting out some winners over the last few years but they all seem to be just a tad overlong as well.


    1. Jay Post author

      Yes it’s interesting how we have more access to foreign cinema through Netflix. This one would never have come my way otherwise.


  5. J.

    I like the sound of this one. Not on Netflix (I just looked), but hopefully it crops up.

    In other news, checking Netflix resulted in my finding a Nic Cage film I haven’t seen (Dying Of The Light), so that’s some sort of consolation, right?


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