The Customer is Always Right

The customer is always right . . . except perhaps when he is blackmailing you and trying to seduce your wife. This is noir lite with a femme fatale, a blackmailer, an older husband and a few twists to keep everyone on their toes. No one is quite who they seem to be in this and the perception of good and bad shifts ever so much from time to time. But it never really digs its nasty claws into you like a gritty noir needs to do and it isn’t much more than a decent time passer with some solid performances.

Chang-jin (Seong Ji-roo) is a third generation barber in his family as he never tires of telling his captive customers and he approaches his job with passion and soul. He has a much younger attractive wife Yeon-ok (Seong Hyeon-ah – Time) who once worked in a hair salon but now is a life insurance salesperson or as she prefers a “life planner” – and she feels ashamed and locked down being the wife of a mere barber. She is probably fooling around on the side, but her husband doesn’t know and he is quite satisfied with his life. That is about to change.

One day a customer with “LOVE” and “HATE” tattooed on his knuckles ala Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter comes in and introduces himself as Kim Yan-gil (fans of Green Fish get extra bonus points for recognizing this). He tells Chang-jin that he knows his dirty little secret and he better start paying the piper – in 150,000 weekly won increments. He accuses the barber of going with a high school prostitute and then later running her down and leaving the scene. Chang-jin complies and later when he hesitates he is smacked around into a whimpering crushed paper bag figure on the floor. After many more such payments and flirtations with Yeon-ok, Chang-jin hires a gum chewing private detective (Lee Seon-gyun) to get information on the man. What he comes back with shocks Chang-jin and he figures it’s time for him to get his payback.

My rating for this film: 5.5


Reviewed: 04/07