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Laramie Movie Scope: Broker

Cops and crooks road movie

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 14, 2023 – I kept thinking this was a Japanese movie, but it is just a Korean movie with a Japanese director. It's confusing, not just because of that, but because of the strange, complicated interactions between the cops and criminals in this movie.

In this country, if the police have murderers in custody, the cops don't just let killers run loose if they promise not to run away, but in this movie, Korean police do exactly that. This really threw me off. If you are familiar with these sorts of Korean undercover investigation practices, this movie might make more sense to you than it did to me.

The main character in the movie is the beautiful So-young (played by Ji-eun Lee). She gives her baby up for adoption, sort of, by placing it on the sidewalk in front of a “baby box” contraption run by a local church. Two policewomen are staking out the baby box, which they suspect is being used by people selling babies on the black market.

Soo-jin (Bae Doona) a police detective who is staking out the baby box operation, sees So-young leave the baby out in the cold, so after she leaves, Soo-jin picks up the baby and puts it in the baby box, telling her fellow officer, Detective Lee (Lee Joo-young) to follow So-young.

After the baby, Woo-sung, is put in the box, two baby smugglers inside, Ha Sang-hyeon (Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won) who works part-time at the church, take the baby and erase the video of him being put in the baby box. Ha Sang-hyeon operates a nearby laundry and is being pressed by underworld figures to repay a gambling debt. He hopes to use the money from the sale of the baby to repay his debt.

The two men find a note left with the baby that says, “Woo-sung, I'm sorry. I'll come back for you.” They ignore the note, saying that most women who write such notes with abandoned babies never come back to reclaim them. But they are both wrong, So-young does return for her baby.

Before she can call the police, the two kidnappers take her aside and tell her they are going to put the baby up for adoption. When she doesn't buy that story, they tell her that there is money in it for her. So-young becomes interested in having her baby sold to wealthy parents at that point, and insists on going along to the sale. They are being followed by the detectives, Soon-jin and Lee, who hope to arrest the sellers and buyers in the act.

The sale of the baby falls apart. Despite being told to let Ha Sang-hyeon and Dong-soo handle the negotiations, So-young gets involved when the prospective parents criticize the baby's looks and try to negotiate a much lower fee. Buyers and sellers part ways, and the sellers look for better buyers, who will meet with the mother's approval.

This leads the four (three adults and a baby) of them to an orphanage where they have connections, to plan their next move. Dong-soo is a favorite among the kids at the orphanage. He grew up there. The detectives doggedly pursue the would-be baby sellers, adding a tracking device and electronic bugs along the way. They also try a sting operation.

The baby sellers pick up a stowaway, Hae-jin, a kid from the orphanage who hides in their van, and finds out too much about the proposed baby sale to be left behind. The baby sellers, the baby and stowaway kid end up driving all over the place, secretly pursued by police. As they spend more time together, the baby sellers and the kid become more like a family and their willingness to sell the baby fades. Eventually, even the police are pulled into a relationship with them.

As if this plot is not complicated enough, more gangsters become involved, and it turns out there is a murder tied up in the middle of everything, a murder the cops don't seem all that concerned about. While the overly busy and improbable plot didn't make much sense to me, the characters are compelling and the main actors are quite appealing. The actors are quite convincing in forming these complicated, feel-good relationships with each other. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2023 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]