"Noirish Coolness" collides with Martial Arts brutality...SU
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 07/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"CITY OF VIOLENCE (aka: Jjakpae) is the 4th film by acclaimed action director Seung-Wan Ryoo (Arahan, Crying Fist). His films usually have that commercial appeal which is why they have enjoyed more success in most other countries in Asia than in South Korea itself. "City of Violence" is no exception, as with most martial arts films, it may have more "Style over substance" but no one can deny that it is very entertaining and quite intense that this film is worth a watch.
A Seoul cop named Taesu (Du-hong Jung, Fighter in the Wind, Arahan) is summoned back to his hometown to attend a funeral for an old high school buddy named Wang Jae. Once there, he runs into two more of his old group, Pilho(Beum-Su Lee) and Seok Hwan( Ryoo Seung-Wan). The four apparently forged their own lives; Taesu is a cop, Wang Jae gave up being a gang boss for his family and gave the reins to Pil-ho(who outgrew his goofy kid image), but Seok Hwan, still likes to start fisticuffs. Pil-ho assures Taesu that he owns the town and he will get to the bottom of Jae's murder. But Taesu, being the cop that he is, decides to do a little investigating along with Seok and they find Jae's killers have been brutally beaten to death, except for one. They find that Pil-ho was having an issue with Wang-Jae over a real state deal and it seemed that Pil-ho could have a hand in the murder. Taesu and Seok must go through a gauntlet of Pil-ho's goons and a very tough QUARTET to bring Pil-ho to justice. The inevitable climactic showdown is a sight to behold.
The plot is unoriginal, and is quite simple. The screenplay gets a tad blurry with too many characters and with the flashbacks. It is also hampered with the fact that Pil-ho is revealed to be the culprit early on in the movie. It reminds me of the films; "Stand By Me" and the Korean Hit "Friend".
However, "City of Violence" succeeds in the action/fight scenes as well as its visual style that I forgave its shortcomings. The fight scenes (choreographed by Du-Hong, actor who played Taesu) are very well done and limits the use of wires/CGI. Bloody and hard-hitting, the fights are well-executed that the style has a touch of realism and doesn't lose its humanity. Camera work gives you an observational perspective, so you can see all the action. The atmosphere has that "noirish coolness" and coupled with very nifty scenes with the different "themed" gangs (looks like it was modeled after "The Warriors";ex. Cheerleaders, bikeriders, etc.) And the music at the climax is reminiscent of the Eastwood's "spaghetti westerns". All the formulas blend well to give us a very cool action movie.
I have the 2-disc region-3 edition from CJ entertainment. The presentation is exceptional which is why Korean dvds are expensive. I heard the Dragon Dynasty release will utilize the same transfer and may carry an English dubbed track. (I prefer to watch it in original Korean language) PICTURE/AUDIO: 1.78 anamorphic widescreen. Near-flawless picture transfer. Vibrant colors, clean and sharp with strong solid blacks in the scenes where needed. 5.1 Dolby/DTS-ES in Korean, English subtitles are very good. If you're equipped, DTS track is the way to go because it is very powerful and crisp. You hear the impact of the punches more clearly.
IN CLOSING: "City of Violence" may not be wholly original, but it is proof that a film doesn't need to be one to deliver an intense and entertaining experience. It is fast-paced and definitely delivers in the action/fight scenes. It is exactly what action-buffs have clamored for in a long time! RECOMMENDED! For action fans. (4 stars)
Dramatic moments sandwiched in-between the spin-kicking figh
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 05/21/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The City of Violence" is surprisely good and pays homage to a handful of films and maybe video games. As much as I enjoyed this film there is ultimately much more behind it is probably clear, but the film leaves no time for the formulate narrative, which may disappoint the one hand, since there are hardly any surprises, at the same time one feels but also good hands and can be fully applied to the optical review and musical values of the film.
This story entails Tae-Su (Doo-Hong Jung) who works as a policeman in Seoul, due to the murder of a former schoolmate after many years in his home town returns, only to realize that things have changed fundamentally. There are now brutal youth gangs, the night the roads unsafe and Tae-Su presumed to be stuck behind the murder. Together with another friend of his youth - Pil Ho - makes it to search for the murderer.
This film ultimately reminded me of a revenge story in the cool'70s style, with good martial-arts sequences, which I have seen from Korea. The most notable feature in the great battle on road when the camera is very close to the action on it, and you do not always match the fighting, which sometimes chaotic adrift into something. The music selection is exemplary; it falls between hip-hop, Western scores and jazz is cool, run 93 minutes in length with very crisp, elegant retro style that contributes to the atmosphere. Leading actors Doo-Hong Jung (Tae-Su) can be fully convincing and shows us the best performance of his career. Ultimately, again a film that offers very little that is new, but at least his exemplary quotes parade passed, and guaranteed an audience.
Like I stated before the weak point of this film is the story itself which is told too quickly. Of course, there is also a city gangsters and consequently many situations, with words no longer clear, but hand edges, and billets of action which is exactly why The City of Violence is worth seeing.
Warriors come out to play... Korean style!
D. Wilson | NY by way of Cali | 09/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"City Of Violence is the story of a group of childhood friends brought together by the death of one of their own... and the steps they have already taken or will take involving his demise. There is allot to like here, a couple of great charismatic leads (Jung Doo-Hong and the director himself Ryoo Seung-Wan), lots of exciting brawls, rounded out by some nice inventive camera work. The fighting here is a fun and kinetic mix, putting realism (main characters who are far from untouchable and suffer plenty of damage along the way) into over the top situations (like 2 against 50 chefs!) while keeping the Tae Kwon Do kicks brutal and fast without wires and added effects. As I led to in the title of the review, this is an obvious ode to the 1979 cult classic "The Warriors," going as far as to include a scene where Jung is caught between multiple eccentric and unique gangs (even a uniform wearing, bat swinging carbon-copy of The Baseball Furies appears!). Also similair is that every fight our leads get into they are outnumbered by many, in fact there isn't a single one-on-one fight to be found!? Another standout quality is the fantastic and original camera shots and stylized cut scenes put to outstanding use. One scene has a close-up profile of a man smoking a cigarette, when he exhales the smoke an action scene materializes in it that is taking place a few rooms from where the he is sitting. The action itself is filmed in a frenetic way that conveys the complete mayhem that is occurring on screen (although exciting it does hurt those who are fans of more intricate choreography like myself). Another thing that I loved is how they framed and shot the showdown before or during fights... the best being when Jung and Ryoo have just dispached about a hundred different goons and are about to relax and take a deep breath, suddenly a sword swinging henchman appears at the other end of the hallway to which they collectively slump and wave him away as if to say "we've had enough" (it then quickly cuts to a relaxed scene of people dining before the swordsman comes crashing through the upstairs balcony and disrupts everything!). Scenes like this give it a kind of coolness that Quentin Tarantino would be proud of and that many similair films can't pull off. So as you may be able to tell City Of Violence wears it's influences proudly on it's sleeve while giving us enough slick action and hip characters and scenarios to keep you entertained (if nothing else) from start to finish. Dragon Dynasty gives us a release filled with everything you've come to expect (great widescreen presentation and original language track as well as English dub) plus an entire second disc filled with more bonus features than you'd probably ever want to watch (but they are nice if you do)."
EDURP | Morgantown, WV | 07/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The movie was a great action flick, excellent choreography and production was great as well. It is one of the more interesting of plots that I've seen in a martial arts movie, very well developed. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to any fan of the genre."
Root for the underdog!
Johnnie Lewis | 02/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is all about rooting for the underdog. The story is sort of silly but the action makes up for it completely! Don't count anyone out nor should you turn away when violence begins! It's good to watch this flick when you got some friends over or there's nothing else to watch!"