As South Korea struggles through a major political scandal involving allegations of corporate malfeasance and high-level influence peddling that have led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, the obsessive commitment of MASTER’s anti-corruption investigator Kim Jae Myung (Kang Dong-won, A VIOLENT PROSECUTOR) appears especially appropriate. Closing in on multilevel marketing operation One Network, Kim’s financial-crimes investigation targets CEO Jin Hyun-pil (Lee Byung-hun) for defrauding his company’s sales staff in order to line his own pockets, with the assistance of his young tech expert, Park Jang Goon (Kim Woo-bin). Without sufficient hard evidence to convict Jin, however, Kim is forced to try recruiting Park by threatening him with arrest and offering a plea deal if he’ll turn over computer evidence and documents incriminating his boss.
Director Jo Ui-seok’s high-stakes thriller makes good use of Lee Byung-hun’s superstar charisma to craft a Gordon Gecko like character who is a ruthless corporate con-artist with high-level connections in South Korean politics. At once grand entertainment and also very timely, MASTER is a thrill ride reminiscent of Michael Mann crime thrillers such as THE INSIDER and HEAT.