Thursday, September 10, 2009

Movie Review: The City of Violence


“The City of Violence”

Korea, 2006

Genre: Pulp action, mobster

92 minutes

A group of childhood friends return home after one of their own is murdered. Having all went their separate ways, Tae-Su, now a detective, decides to investigate Wang-jae’s death, uncovering a dangerous mobster plot.

Definitely one of my favorite action movies to date, it’s fast, funny, and full of great fights. Doo-hong Jung is one of Korea’s top fight choreographers and action stars. Playing the lead alongside Seung-wan Ryu, the director, the duo’s on-screen chemistry perfectly defines the buddy action dynamic. While I can’t speak too much for the dialogue using only subtitles, the plot is engaging and exciting. All the actors fit well into their roles, Jung as the no-nonsense cop, Ryu as the fast-talking tough guy, Beom-su Lee as the charismatic gangster. It’s a bit of a throwback to 70s cop and action films, with gratuitous violence everywhere.

Doo-hung Jung is pioneering South Korea’s action cinema, choreographing and starring in films like “Natural City” and “Fighter in the Wind” (those will get their own reviews soon!). As to be expected of a former National Tae Kwon Do Master, his fights are full of kicks and acrobatics, but don’t expect to see anything flowery. The choreography, while stylized and full of flair, hit hard and hit fast, sometimes ending before you have a chance to pick your jaw up off the floor. “The City of Violence,” is no exception, and I consider it his finest work yet. It’s a rather short film, so there aren’t very many fights, but it more than makes up for the lack of quantity with plenty of quality. The ending fight scene has Jung and Ryu barrel through hordes of knife-wielding henchmen, all building up to a final confrontation with the big boss. Jung goes over the top with blood and injuries in an almost playful manner, but don’t think for a second it detracts from the fight. Pushing boundaries in the way only a B-movie can, “The City of Violence” satisfies the thirst for entertaining violence every time the craving strikes.

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