If you know nothing about this film, you may be confused by what Exit is trying to be. That confusion could prevent a really good film in your mind from being a great film. In the age of remakes, reboots, superhero films, originally seems to be a relic from a past industry. Fortunately, South Korea doesn’t have this problem and they are still able to come up with innovative twists to old genres which is how Exit was made.
Exit begins with a down on his luck man named Yong-nam (Jung-suk Jo). Yong-nam is was one of the best rock climbers in college, but his life has gone nowhere since. No job, no girlfriend, Yong is stuck in a rut and is just waiting for everything to get better. While celebrating his mother’s 70th birthday, a massive gas attack strikes the city, leaving Yong and his loved ones stuck with nowhere to go. For the first time in his life, his skills as a rock climber come in handy and he is going to need them if his family and friends have any chance of survival.
The biggest thing working against this film is the first 20 minutes because it’s difficult to understand what this film is trying to be. Early on, you are under the impression that this film is a cheesy rom-com but once you get out of the 1st act the entire tone of the film changes. This is very much a disaster film with a serious threat to our protagonists as gas attacks are much deeper of a threat to those in Asian countries. Our two leads have to overcome these odds by only using the skills that they have excelled at in life to strategically vault from one building to another to escape the toxic gas. There are strong lessons about persistence and sacrifice our characters learn which hooks the audience to be invested in their fate when things look grim. The added elements of adventure magnify the selflessness of our heroes to make the difficult decision to put the safety of others ahead of themselves.
Exit’s biggest flaw is the balance of too many themes. If you love a romantic comedy dripped in some domestic terrorism, with a side helping of Ninja Warrior then you’ll find enough to like to look past its issues.