A hodgepodge of genres and tones and presented as being "based on true events," writer-director Yang Woo-seok's South Korean film The Attorney has nothing in the way of subtlety. But damn if its critique of political corruption and cultural oppression in South Korea doesn't bring a lump to the throat. Song Woo-seok (Song Kang-ho) is an ambitious, stubborn lawyer whose impoverished background has given him both the drive to succeed and something of a chip on his shoulder. Aside from his family (wife, two young children), he's only about making money. When a confluence of events and unconnected associates places an unjustly imprisoned and tortured college student in his path, the decision to defend the boy has life-changing consequences. The film's flashback-heavy first half is at once a breezy, sentimental, lightly comic character setup of Woo-seok, making it clear what a fundamentally good guy he is. Halfway through, there's something like a record scratch: A crucial scene finds Woo-seok suddenly in crude, boorish mode. Rather than character development, this comes off as a heavy-handed ruse to make him unlikable enough to be redeemed in the final act's courtroom drama. In his feature debut as a director, Yang doesn't yet have the skills to massage the varied elements of his script, or to control his actors. In the emotionally charged courtroom scenes, Song (visibly too old for his character) masticates his way through the scenery, determined to milk the audience's tear ducts dry.