Help, I’m a Korean action thriller star—get me out of here!

While not a new movie to an astute ultimate action movie fan, Hostage: Missing Celebrity is a nice genre treat at this year’s Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. 

While theatrically released on August 18, 2021, this Korean action thriller stars Hwang Jung-min as a fictional version of himself as it plays out what would happen if he were to be kidnapped and taken hostage. So, Hostage: Missing Celebrity – get it?

And while this Korean adaption its source Chinese film Saving Mr. Wu might lean more thriller at times, it definitely has more than a fair share of classic action contained within its simple, but tightly controlled premise. Let’s check it out!

UAMC Reviews Hostage: Missing Celebrity (2021)

For a Fantastic Fest viewing, you can expect lots of blood and carnage, and ultimately Hostage does not disappoint. It doesn’t have much horror or cringe at all, which either a plus or minus depending on how you look at it. But for an ultimate action movie fan, I’d say it’s actually about as ultimate as a modern action can be.

Hwang (as himself) is a great action star as the movie really lives and breathes off of his capture and subsequent escape attempts and battles. I like the premise a lot too and think this film is ripe for an American adaption as well which could be rife with opportunity for a seasoned but affable action star (like Keanu Reeves, maybe?) to play the same role.

Hostage is well-paced and hits as many of the notes as possible to keep the plot moving, the characters developing and the stakes rising. It’s a testament to writer and director Pil Kam-sung’s genre-craft and a solid film through and through.

Meta-Action Movie Tropes

It’s also quite a refreshing movie to watch in a way. There’s been meta-action done before (anyone remember Traxx), but Hostage conceptually feels better fleshed out than most. Besides a few gags at the beginning and end, it doesn’t really rely on the gimmick at all — instead just throwing its actor character into a tough situation and letting the story speak for itself.

I’ve admittedly not seen my fair share of Korean action or am super familiar with Hwang’s work, but I’m a big fan of his performance in this role as it really gives him tons of space to be both brutal as well as affectionate. He handles both quite well and the film really feels like it’s outperforming its budget.

But, How Ultimate is it?

Indeed, how ultimate is Hostage: Missing Celebrity? Like I mentioned above, a lot of these Fantastic Fest films incorporate a lot of other genre elements like horror, thriller and sci-fi. But while Hostage has by-the-numbers thriller elements, I definitely did not skimp out on the action!

There’s some great chase sequences, a variety of fights and even some shootouts (which as you can see from an American lens watching a native Korean movie, don’t happen too often IRL). 

Hwang himself sustains a massive amount of damage as he and his captors trade blows throughout until they’re all left either bloody, bruised or dead. There’s even a great final showdown as Hwang faces off against his main captor in a pretty epic showdown in the rain a la Van Damme vs Vincent Klyn in Albert Pyun’s Cyborg.

So yeah, quite ultimate, quite good, very thriller and a great Fantastic Fest find!