Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Jin-ho Choi, Ja-Hyeon Chu, Jeong-min Hwang, Jung Mi Hwang, Won-jae Kang
Director: Ho Choi
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
(Foreign/Thriller) In this uncompromising vision of the dark and gritty Korean underworld, a crystal meth dealer with a tragic past is forced to team up with a renegade cop to take down a powerful crime lord.
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Character-driven approach and the strong performances make t
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 10/14/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"BLOODY TIES (aka. Stoned City) is another stab by South Korea on crime drama. Gritty, at times a bit humorously dark and violent; it hits the right spots with the effects of illegal drugs to people, the politics around them and goes on a direction that a lot of mainstream crime drama do not explore.
Plot synopsis partly derived from the dvd back cover:
A successful drug-dealer with a tragic past named Sang-do (Ryu Seung-beom, ARAHAN, Crying Fist) is forced to team up with a renegade cop; Detective Ho (Hwang Jeon-min) to take down a powerful crime lord protected by a division of the government itself.
Bloody Ties is a character-driven film. Its premise may be a bit simple, it is not be something we haven't seen before. However, with its interesting characters, good cinematography, and with its flashy editing it flourishes and succeeds as a dark and gritty crime thriller. It packs a good wallop with the depth of its characters and the actors' performances. The film has a very straight-forward vision to illegal drugs; its consequences to its sellers, the effect to its users and the political ramifications around it. It may be reminiscent of a Hong Kong crime drama but it succeeds in adapting a Korean feel.
Ryu Seong-Beom has been in a roll lately, this is the third film I've seen wherein he gives a near-stellar performance. His performance is the main key to "Bloody Ties'" success. Sang-Do's character is no role model; Ryu Seong-Beon plays his part convincingly and adds a certain depth and charisma that I had to pay attention to him. It is to the actor's credit that he can play such an unlikeable character with such natural grit. Hwang Jeong-min plays the other side of the coin; Detective Ho. This cop is a bit on the edgy side and is very driven by guilt because of the lost of his partner, with whose wife he has began having sex with after his death. The "cop on the edge" is nothing new but the chemistry between Sang-Do and Ho make a very interesting pair both operating outside the law in their own way and who aren't very different from one another.
I've mentioned that the film explores the effects of drugs on its users and the character of Ji-young (Choo Ja-Hyeon, Samaritan Girl) fulfills the usual requirement in exploring the evils of drug use. Ji-young is a drug-addicted woman who is willing to have sex with anyone to get her next fix, who develops a convincing relationship with Sang Do. At first glance, Ji-young's character feels like a mere plot device, but her character proves quite necessary to prevent the audience from getting too comfortable with Sang Do.
Bloody Ties may have the usual predictable and coincidental plot developments, which makes it far from perfect. To its credit, it did deliver on a few unexpected twists. It allows the viewers to draw their own judgments and conclusions as to why the characters are the way they are, while the screenplay itself remains neutral and doesn't impose any sort of interpretations to their actions. The film took off strongly enough, with its stylish (but powerful) visuals but it does become a bit unfocused in the 2nd act that it stumbles on some of the intentions of the main characters. Thankfully, the 3rd act and the climax managed to save the film from becoming a disaster. It managed to tie everything up between the plot and its themes.
PICTURE/AUDIO: 1.78 ratio Anamorphic widescreen. The video transfer of the Tartan release is nice, although some scenes have some a bit of grain. The colors are natural and the black levels are very strong. The 5.1 DOLBY/5.1 DTS Korean language track is very clear and powerful. English Subtitles are excellent and well-timed.
BLOODY TIES is a mixed bag. The film is pretty solid and its weaknesses in plot are made up for by the strong performances of its actors/actress. The way it presents its vision regarding the moral and political dilemma surrounding drugs as well as law enforcement gives us something to ponder. It came off as more than an average film of crime `noir'.
Recommended! For fans of film noir and a good "rental" for everyone else...[3 ½ stars]