Action thrilled 'The Point Men' aims to make good on misconceptions

Main poster for "The Point Men" [PLUS M ENTERTAINMENT]

In her latest terrorist-negotiation action thriller “The Point Men,” director Yim Soon-rye wanted to relay the message that while Korea may be viewed as a powerful country, it cannot make any diplomatic moves without the United States’ consent.

“The Point Men” is about a diplomat and an intelligence officer, played by Hwang Jung-min and Hyun Bin, who need to put aside their differences and work together to free 23 Korean hostages held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. While filming for “The Point Men” wrapped up two years ago, it is finally being released in time for the Lunar New Year’s holiday season on Jan. 18.

Director Yim worked with Hwang 21 years ago in the movie “Waikiki Brothers” (2001), and explained during a press conference for “The Point Men” held at MegaBox COEX branch in Gangnam District on Friday that she wished to release an “accurate” depiction of Afghanistan and talk about Korea’s position in world politics.

Actor Hyun Bin, center, as Park Dae-sik in "The Point Men" [PLUS M ENTERTAINMENT]

“Things like the release of Taliban prisoners, which the terrorists demand in the film in exchange for the Korean hostages, are in the hands of the big powers,” said Yim. “The part where Hwang’s character Jung Jae-ho says that the Taliban has ‘overestimated’ Koreans addresses that. And we were very careful to study Afghanistan well and give a thorough and realistic portrayal of the country.”

Due to the difficult filming conditions — the crew had to scout tens of different countries and locations before finally settling on Jordan — the two leads Hwang and Hyun Bin, accompanied by Kang Ki-young of the 2022 ENA series “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” became even closer than they already were.

“I was already friends with Hyun Bin before shooting ‘The Point Men,’ but we got to know each other even better through filming,” said Hwang. “And Kang brought much needed comic relief to the film when things were getting serious.”

Actors Hwang Jung-min and Hyun Bin in "The Point Men" [PLUS M ENTERTAINMENT]

Regarding the recent controversy surrounding dramas like “Narco Saints,” which prompted the Suriname government to release an official statement on the Netflix series’ faults, director Yim said that nothing was particularly adjusted in “The Point Men” since this film set out for a realistic and accurate depiction of the Afghan culture from the get-go.

“I don’t think we made any assumptions or had any misunderstandings about Afghanistan while filming,” said Yim. “And to an extent, I think that the actual Taliban are even more notorious then we make them out in ‘The Point Men.’ We’ve tried our best to include all we could about this story of Korean hostages, which is based on a real-life event.”

Actor Kang Ki-young as Kashim, or Lee Bong-han, in "The Point Men" [PLUS M ENTERTAINMENT]

Kang, the breakout star of “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” said that he practiced with a native language teacher to learn Pashto and that he learned his lines phonetically, as if “memorizing a rap song.”

The director and cast said that before filming began, they had a lot of misconceptions and incorrect knowledge about Afghanistan and its history and culture, but that they amended that as they studied in preparation for “The Point Men.”

“I used to think Afghanistan was in the Middle East and that they spoke Arabic,” said Yim. “But I got to learn the extensive history of the country while shooting ‘The Point Men’ and came to sympathize with how much it was invaded over the centuries and was violated by imperialist powers.”

To find out whether the hostages make it home safely, and how Hwang’s and Hyun Bin’s characters slowly start to understand each other after a rough start, head to theaters from Jan. 18.