The things you have to do to save your sister.

In Hunger Games, Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence), had to volunteer for a kill-or-be-killed mission in Panem, a country that rose from the ashes of North America.

A little closer to home, North Korean Myung-hoon (Choi Seung-hyun, better known as “T.O.P”) must undergo years of grueling training before risking his life to spy on their Southern neighbor to secure sister Hye-in’s release from labor camp in Commitment.

2 years later Myung-hoon, now 20, finds himself in South Korea pretending to be a high school student Kang Dae-ho, and a foster son of spies like him.

As with most movies involving high school, the new kid finds himself the target of bullies after befriending the school loner Lee Hye-in who’s an orphan like him, and Myung-hoon’s desk partner .

That’s when the youth finds out that espionage work requires him to kill as well. His first mission is to snub out the assassin murdering the other North Korean spies.

This is followed by orders to commit multiple murders, exploding buildings, among other crimes, until his injuries had him looking for Hye-in for help.

Unfortunately for him, the power tussles within his fatherland turned him from their killing machine to a possible liability to the new administration. And again his sister becomes the bargaining chip to force Myung-hoon to give up North Korea’s valuables in his possession.

The production of Commitment has been met with much difficulty, ranging from a change in director mid-production, to having to deal with sudden schedule changes after the leading man’s injury to his right hand from breaking glass (which required surgery) on set and his subsequent global touring with his band.

Those uninitiated to Korean movies may find it initially confusing as the supporting cast on both sides, share similar features. That, coupled with the little airtime given to the agents on both sides, causes both the “good” and the “bad” guys to end up in an ambiguous blur.

With a cast that’s well acquainted with big screen work (Dong Yi’s Kim Yoo-jung, The Man Next Door’s Yoon Je-moon and The Yellow Moon’s Jo Sung-ha), the portrayal of each character was in good hands.

Besides, with his brooding facial expression, something that comes naturally to this Big Bang member, T.O.P embodied his troubled character who was forced to grow up in an astonishingly short span of time, the innocence in his eyes at the start of the movie completely disappearing after his first assassination. It didn’t hurt that his good looks, coupled with his expressive eyes, had even the most chronic cynic fall in love with him

Unfortunately, the plot falls short of being totally objective with its casting of South Korea as superhero in its efforts at saving Myung-hoon and Hye-in, while playing with the stereotypes associated to North Korea, showing it as treacherous and manipulative.

While most people won’t dispute this, in principle, South Korea’s perfect behaviour in Commitment as well as the suspicious ease of North Korean defects gaining refuge in the South causes the movie to lose its realism, denting the otherwise spotless record on the movie.

As much as attention was given to both the accent as well as terms used in the movie, siblings Myung-hoon and Hye-in are seen slipping into South Korean talk in a few scenes.

Thankfully, Commitment’s writers veered from the route of a typical Korean drama, where the protagonist falls in love with his female co-star. Their choice to let the plot unfold with the protagonist’s dedication to his little sister as the motivation behind his actions, and having classmate Hye-in (played by Han Ye-ri) come in as a supportive friend, turns this from a potentially cheesy love-story/snoozefest into a poignant one.

Rating: 3/5
Release date: Nov 21
Runtime: 113 minutes
Language: Korean
Censorship rating: NC-16
Genre: Action/Drama
Director: Park Hong-soo
Main Actors: Choi Seung-hyun, Han Ye-ri, Yoon Je-moon, Jo Sung-ha