"You're a dog, a mad dog. Don't pretend to be human. A dog should live like a dog... accept your fate and live here with me."      


In the hope of being cast in an acting role, Hyun-ah (Jeon Se-hong) travels with a film director to the countryside. Stopping for some food at a farm restaurant, they meet the owner, Pan-gon (Moon Sung-keun), who instantly makes Hyun-ah feel rather uneasy. To her horror, when she returns from making a phone call to her sister Hyun-jung (Choo Ja-hyun), Hyun-ah finds Pan-gon in the process of killing the director, but before she can make her escape, she is anaesthetized and locked in a cage in Pan-gon's basement. As the days pass with no word from Hyun-ah, Hyun-jung realises that something is amiss and goes in search of her sister...


Allegedly based on true events, Missing wastes next to no time in revealing its intentions. Within the first few minutes, we have been introduced to several archetypal characters and situations akin to those found in a plethora of serial killer/slasher films - the creepy old man who "wouldn't hurt a fly" and looks after his ailing, bedridden mother at an out of the way farm in a small backwater town; the pretty and naively independent young girl who has a tendency to stay out all night without informing her family; the man accompanying her who is obviously pinning his hopes on having sex with her, in return for casting her in his film; and the young girl's older sister who is, seemingly, overly concerned for her sibling's safety.
A soundtrack of quiet, melancholy music (which initially accompanies a homemade video of Hyun-ah and Hyun-jung enjoying themselves at a get together on a summer's day) plays throughout the film, and combines, early on, with Hyun-ah's voiced uneasiness about Pan-gon staring at her legs, as well as a phone call she makes to her sister stating that she'll try to be a better sister in the future (ending with her telling Hyun-jung that she loves her), to add a feeling of predictability to proceedings, and with the first brutal murder, and Hyun-ah's subsequent kidnap, taking place before the ten minute mark, those feelings are quickly confirmed.

That said, Missing actually does what it does rather well. Though it is indeed noticeably predictable throughout, there is a palpable sense of uneasiness prevalent from start to finish, helped largely by the almost understated, matter of fact, nature of the violence present (which, though it regularly comes suddenly and without warning, is thankfully largely free from "Boo!" scares) and by Moon Sung-keun's phenomenal performance as Pan-gon.
The camera angles used, certainly in the first half of the film, are repeatedly sexually intrusive, and though they could be said to be at a level which is simply gratuitous (framing Hyun-ah's legs, when she's wearing a mini skirt, from a low viewpoint looking up; her nudity within the cage filmed from numerous angles; etc.), Missing makes no apologies for them whatsoever and, to my mind, they do actually fit with the deeply seedy and sexually twisted actions of Pan-gon. However, whether individual viewers consider them to be warranted, or little more than exploitation, is ultimately up to each person to decide for themselves.

There are a number of scenes in Missing where gore is shown to a similar extent to that found in many recent serial killer/kidnap/torture genre outings from numerous countries around the world but, though these are suitably shocking, they aren't actually overdone, and by far the most unsettling elements present come from the segments of the film where the violence and brutality are partly off camera.
In fact, the most viciously memorable of these also becomes the most poignant moment of the entire film; switching part way through to a replaying of the homemade phone video first shown in Missing's opening scene.

The brisk pace of the first half of Missing inadvertently becomes the second half's downfall, with the plot slowing down to a large degree shortly after the police pay their first visit to investigate Pan-gon's farm, and though the pace picks up again towards the latter stages of the film, the earlier loss of impetus and the overuse of contrived coincidences result in Missing feeling rather uneven, overall.
However, the one aspect of Missing which really didn't sit well with me personally was the overall implication as to man's inherent nature:
Many of the male characters are clearly shown to be able and willing to do absolutely anything and everything, regardless of how violent, brutal or sexually depraved it may be, so long as it suits their needs. The conclusion of the film reinforces this further with a totally unnecessary scene, which not only implies that what we have previously witnessed cannot fail to be repeated, but also almost infers that, by and large, men are capable of stepping over the line of what is morally acceptable with little more provocation than a pretty young girl in a short skirt being placed in their path. In fact, shortly before her abduction, Hyun-ah herself says "Men are all the same", and Missing makes little attempt to step away from that claim; instead pushing it to its very limits.


Though largely predictable and unevenly paced, Missing still manages to be unsettling and even moving at times, and while it may not be the best example of its genre, it stands its ground fairly well, all the same.


Moon Sung-Keun's portrayal of Pan-gon is by far the best performance in Missing, easily leaving the other cast members in the shade. His ability to switch from a smarmy persona, issuing fake compliments and platitudes, to a viciously brutal psychopath spitting out his hatred of women, whom he sees as nothing more than dogs, is incredible throughout and raises the level of proceedings by a massive degree.
Choo Ja-hyun, as Hyun-jung, gives a decent enough portrayal, but it is utterly impossible for her to come even close to giving as polished and nuanced a performance as Moon Sung-keun, especially since there is much less depth given to her character by the script.
Jeon Se-hong is relatively young and inexperienced and it does show on a couple of occasions, most noticeably when she is first abducted. Her performance improves as the film progresses but her character is essentially just a scared, abused victim and, as such, there is only so much that can be expected from her, aside from showing fear and pain.

Actors: Moon Sung-Keun, Jeon Se-hong, Choo Ja-Hyun

Director: Kim Sung-hong


The DVD used for this review is the UK, Region 2, release from Cine Asia, which has an anamorphic transfer presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The picture is incredibly clear throughout and is free of ghosting and image artifacts.
The sound is provided as a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0, both of which are crisp and and clean and compliment the high quality of the images.
Excellent (non-removeable) subtitles are provided for the main feature. The DVD also features trailers of other Cine Asia DVD titles.

The DVD reviewed here was supplied courtesy of Cine Asia.

DVD Details:

Actors: Moon Sung-Keun, Jeon Se-hong, Choo Ja-Hyun
Directors: Kim Sung-Hong
Format: Anamorphic, Colour, PAL, Subtitled, Widescreen
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 1
Classification: 18
Studio: Showbox Media Group/Cine Asia
Run Time: 99 minutes
ASIN: B003N774GA

DVD Special Features:

• Dolby Digital Korean 2.0 & 5.1 • English Subtitles • Trailer Gallery

All images © Showbox Media Group and Cine Asia
Review © Paul Quinn