Seo In-Guk And Lee Soo-Hyuk Face Off In Korean Heist Film ‘Pipeline’

Pipeline starts with an explosion and the pace of director Yu-ha’s heist film rarely slows down after that. What causes the deadly inferno is an incompetent attempt to siphon off oil from an underground pipeline. One slip up and an oil thief could die a horrible death, but that possibility does not stop thieves from trying. None is as skilled as the master oil thief nicknamed Drill Bit, played by Seo In-guk. 

The large sums he collects for knowing when and how to tap into underground pipes pay for his fancy sports car and designer suits. He’s in it for the money and he’s proud of the skills that buy him expensive things. Those in-demand skills have made him a little arrogant.

A larger than usual paycheck convinces him to work for Gun Woo, the head of an oil refinery, played by Lee Soo-hyuk. Drill Bit may be a criminal, but he’s basically a decent guy. Gun Woo, on the other hand, is a cartoon villain, planning a money-making scheme that will not only hurt those he hired to drill, but also many innocent bystanders. 

While Pipeline is fast paced and funny, relying on inept criminals and cops for laughs, eventually the story settles on an important truth. Drill Bit and his teammates are criminals, but life offered them few legitimate choices. Gun Woo is a corporate chairman, with unlimited resources, but he is prepared to sacrifice innocent lives to amass more money. 

Drill Bit’s criminal team includes Jeobsae, played by Eum Moon-suk, who was so funny in the dramas Backstreet Rookie and Hello, Me. He plays a welder, spying on his teammates, and he does so to comic effect. The team is rounded out by actors Tae Hang-ho, Bae Da-bin and Yoo Seung-mok. While most of the team members signed up to finance the possibility of a fresh start, eventually they realize that taking down Gun Woo is more important.

Seo In-guk and Lee Soo-hyuk, have worked together more than once and can currently both be seen in the TV drama Doom At Your Service, but Pipeline is their best acting collaboration yet. Their characters’ intense interactions propel a series of brutal showdowns, some of which involve inventive uses for a blow torch. Seo is relatable as a man whose arrogance hides his feelings, while Lee is almost comical in his very believable villainy.

The film rushes along at the pace of a gushing pipeline with plenty of adrenaline-boosting action scenes. Scriptwriter and director Yu-ha previously directed Gangnam Blues, starring Lee Min-ho, Howling, starring Song Kang-ho, and A Frozen Flower, starring Jo In-sung, Joo Jin-mo and Song Ji-hyo. It’s likely the director enjoyed filming Pipeline, as his twist on the tried-and-true heist genre is fun to watch. The movie premiered in South Korea on May 26.