I prefer the original title for this film, Journalist. Now it’s called The Exclusive: Beat the Devil’s Tattoo.
Director Roh Deok gives us a dark satire of the news business. Moo-Hyuk (Cho Jung-Seok) is about to be canned after inadvertently making a negative report on a sponsor. His pregnant wife is divorcing him. However, things are looking up. A single obscure tip leads him to what seems to be a solid lead on a serial killer that has been terrorizing the city. But just as soon as he becomes everyone’s news darling, he discovers his lead directs him to a theatre play instead. But now it’s too late to stop his own fame… How hard is it to string everyone along?
Not really hard actually. Moo-Hyuk will have to balance out his pregnant wife, the ambitious informer, the police and to top it off, the actual killer! The shift from satire back to a serious crime movie… Well, here’s the thing. It might seem like a drastic change of tone until the outcome, as satire creeps its way back again. The result is a dark comedy of errors and just a little bit of murder. The public has the right to know the news. They just don’t have the right to know how the news were made.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what really happened. It matters what sells air time and gets us so many hits that the web server can’t cope with the traffic. It’s all about the ratings and the sponsorship. After all, the only thing the bosses want is to have everyone’s attention.
Highs: The less you know, the more this becomes an enjoyable romp. Leave any concept of honesty and dignity at the door. A satire about the commercial value of newscasts and getting the scoop.
Lows: It’s not as biting a satire as it could have been, becomes more comical than realistic. It’s not a serious critique but an over the top comedic look.
Recommended with reservations. Don’t expect a biting critique, but a satire about a news network completely falling over a made up story. I mean, no self-respecting news network would intentionally misreport- oh wait… Nevermind.
That will do for now.