At the time this review is posted, Exit has hit #21 of Korea’s all-time top grossing locally made films and I have no doubt it will climb further up (pun intended).

Yong-nam (Jung-suk Jo) was one of the best rock climbers in college but hasn’t had much luck elsewhere after graduation. He has failed to get a job for many years and has to rely on his parents just to get by. For his mother’s 70th birthday, he insisted on having the party at Dream Garden because his old crush, Eui-ju (Yoona) works there. When a disaster strikes, covering an entire district in Seoul with mysterious white gas, he has to use all of his rock climbing skills with the help of Eui-ju to get everyone to safety.

Remember those days during physical training lessons and your coach instructed you to run round the school? You probably dashed off looking like a winner, but once you were no longer in the eye-line of your coach you started walking. Exit will instil the real deal in you and you will realise you are keeping fit not for the coach, but for yourself, and dammit… you will never know that one day all those extra rounds you ran and the additional weight you bench-pressed is going to save lives.

Exit is a blast. I sat in a near full house screening and judging by the ecstatic screams I heard all around me this is a winner, but Exit is sandwiched by some of the laziest filmmaking ever. The cloying melodrama, the extreme over-acting, the comedic broad-strokes, are all on show. Right at the end, writer-director Sang Geun Lee had no idea how to wrap up all the good work done, but trust me, nobody cares because Lee scores with the mind-blowing action in this action-comedy.

Disaster genre films have no reason to be this fun. For me, this is a sub-genre of the disaster genre and I termed it the problem-solving sub-genre. Don’t worry, I won’t share any surprises here but I will just say some of the ways Yong-nam and Eui-ju negotiate the obstacles as the toxic gas threatens to rise up and envelope them are truly inventive. The cinematography is stellar and the two leads are entirely convincing as rock wall climbers. Some scenes are so exhilarating that my heart parked in my mouth.

Sometimes a movie can do one thing so well that you can look past all the missteps and contrivances. I had so much fun watching this that it is almost criminal. This is Sang Geun Lee’s debut and he has lots of room for growth, but in the action element he is a top dawg.

3 / 5