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'Commitment,' Korean spy caper with heart and Seoul

Sexy, young hotshot spies get a mission that's as much about falling in love as it is about state security.

Espionage stories are all the rage on Korean screens lately - at least those about sexy, young hotshot spies whose mission is as much about falling in love as it is about state security.

Well-groomed hottie agents in designer suits and dresses dominate TV megahits such as Iris, Athena, City Hunter, and Time Between Dog and Wolf.

Beautifully shot and spiced with slick fight choreography, they are generally light on the Intelligence but thick as honey 'n' treacle when it comes to sentiment. The latest big-screen import, Commitment, is a typical entry: lots of family tragedy, saccharine love, and high-impact tae kwon do.

Pop and rap star Choi Seung-hyun (stage name T.O.P.) stars as North Korean teenager Ri Myung-hoon, who is thrown into a labor camp with younger sister Ri Hye-in (Kim Yoo-jung) when their spy dad gets caught on a mission in Seoul.

The kid is given a deal by his dad's masters: They'll free his sister if he brushes up on his gunplay and spin kicks and goes on a mission in South Korea as a member of the elite Unit 8.

His job: to assassinate agents from another North Korean spy network in Seoul, called Unit 35.

In a bit of a nutty plot twist, we learn that the two units are backing opposing sides in a power struggle after the 2011 death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

And Ri Myung-hoon is caught right in the middle.

Posing as a high school senior, our hero saves a cute young girl from bullies. She's a reflection of his sister, and even has the same first name.

The burgeoning love story - with soulful soundtrack music and egregiously soft lighting - is interrupted by bombast, bloodshed, and betrayal.

Will our hero survive? Will he ever see his sister again?

Commitment may be loopy, but its Alias-meets-90210 formula has its charms. You might even enjoy it - even if you forget it within the hour.

Commitment ** (out of four stars)

Directed by Hong-soo Park. With Choi Seung-hyun, Kim Yoo-jung, Han Ye-ri. Distributed by Well Go USA.

Running time: 1 hour, 48 mins.

Parent's guide: Not rated (adult themes, violence, some gore)

Playing at: AMC Plymouth Meeting Mall 12