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the director -- named Jang Hyun-seong(7)

Time:2018-03-08 00:04Shoes websites Click:

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Crying Fist

Though not really a submission to the critics' wishes, the gritty and at times shocking Crying Fist represents a synthesis of the harsh realism Ryoo displayed in Die Bad and the commercial elements of his later work. Much of the film concentrates on the day-to-day experiences of two unrelated men, and contains almost nothing in the way of genre elements. The movie's resolution then plays out along the lines of the boxing film, but with one key difference that turns the genre completely on its head.

Kang Tae-shik () is a former Asian Games silver medallist whose life is at a dead end. His past glory worth almost nothing in the present day, he has found a creative but strenuous way to earn money: he becomes a human punching bag. In the meantime, his disintegrating marriage places great strain on both wife and husband, not to mention their young son.

Yu Sang-hwan (Ryoo Seung-beom) is a delinquent from a crumbling neighborhood who gets by on committing petty theft and harassing students. His relationship with his father, younger brother and grandmother is tenuous at best. One day his life is turned upside down, and like Tae-shik, he reaches the nadir of his existence. More out of frustration than anything else, he takes up boxing.

In Korea this film has drawn interest for pairing an acclaimed veteran actor with perhaps the most talented of the younger generation stars. All the more interesting, then, that Ryoo Seung-beom, the director's younger brother, should end up outshining the lead from Oldboy. Ryoo's portrayal of Sang-hwan (which incidentally is the same name of the characters he played in Arahan and Die Bad) is a perfect embodiment of caged fury. He speaks very little, but his body language radiates deep-seated anger and pain. Put simply, Ryoo's performance is mesmerizing, and watching him is one of the film's biggest pleasures. (Those who saw him in Arahan will find him completely unrecognizable.) Meanwhile Choi Min-shik also gives an excellent performance, but since he portays a character whose spirit has essentially been snuffed out, it's harder to relate to him. We get a strong sense of the aimlessness and desperation he feels, but this also makes the middle sections of the film somewhat tiring to watch.

The viewer's patience is rewarded by the end, however, in a resolution that is emotionally moving on the level of Failan, and backhandedly subversive in its construction. Think of virtually any boxing movie, and you envision a likeable central character (underdog) fighting at high stakes against a formidable opponent. As viewers, our emotional energy is funneled into the main character, almost to the point where we're the ones throwing the punches. Unspoken nationalistic or prejudicial feelings sometimes creep unawares into our minds. "Kill that German whore!" we scream while watching Million Dollar Baby.

Now imagine a boxing movie where two men who desperately need a break in life, who we both empathize with so much that it hurts, step into the ring against each other. Who do we cheer for? It's such a simple variation on the standard formula, but it causes the whole generic structure of viewer loyalties and triumph-against-odds expectations to crash down like a house of cards. Watching this film's gripping resolution play out, we have no idea what will happen, and we hardly even know what to wish for.      (Darcy Paquet)


    A Bittersweet Life

A Bittersweet Life opens with a gorgeous black and white image of a willow tree tossing in the breeze. As color slowly starts to bleed into the frame, we hear a voiceover by the main character Sun-woo: "On a clear spring day, a disciple looked at some branches blowing in the wind, and asked, 'Master, is it the branches that are moving, or the wind?' Without even looking to where his pupil was pointing, the teacher smiled and said, 'That which moves is neither the branches nor the wind, it is your heart and mind.'"

A Bittersweet Life

Sun-woo () is a man whose heart and mind remain closed to wind, rain, or disruptive emotions. For the past seven years he has served his gangster boss with unflinching exactitude. He manages an upscale bar called La Dolce Vita (which echoes the film's original Korean title), and he despatches people who get in the boss's way with skill and efficiency. The boss (Kim Young-cheol) trusts him so much that he asks Sun-woo to look after his mistress (Shin Min-ah), and to kill her if she is being unfaithful.

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