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Kang Tae Sik is a 43-year-old former silver medalist boxer. He now spends his days hawking himself as a human punching bag to passersby in a shopping district in Seoul and other times hiding from various loan sharks. His wife wants a divorce and is threatening to take take their own only son with her. Yoo Sang Hwan is a troubled youth, who was only recently released from prison. Sang Hwan robbed and beat up his elderly neighbor in an attempt to pay off his debts. While in prison, a guard recommended Sang Hwan take up boxing as a way to release his aggression. Now, with his father having passed away, his mother's whereabouts unknown and his grandmother just having a stroke, Sang Hwan is desperate. An amateur boxing competition takes place, providing hope for these two men. They will meet in the ring. Written by
My main reason to seek this move out was to see Min-sik Choi, but I also shared an equal interest in what the director and his brother had to offer as well. I think we all had our share of boxing movies dealing with a man overcoming the obstacles and reaching his triumph in front of a massive crowd, with his face swelled up and bloody, looking for someone to share his happiness with. Then you had the bad guy conveniently set up in the opposite corner with redundant reactions and a task to come off as inhuman as possible throughout the film. This movie is no such travesty of epic proportions. It is so much more.
I don't want to dive too deeply into the plot, but in short the story deals with two men of different ages. Choi plays an Asian Games silver medalist whose health and family is in a downward spiral and Ryoo Seung-beom plays a careless young man with crime chasing tendencies and a small family that stands behind him no matter what.
With such premises set up both characters not only offer great acting, (notable Ryoo Seung-beom, who is barely recognizable) but they relentlessly take turns in shredding any hopes of achieving a better life or even surviving the one they already have. In certain cases their judgment is at fault and at other instances their luck just simply runs out. Ultimately the audience is left to cheer for these two characters, but since the film stands at over 2 hours it makes it pretty hard for you to somber over one guy more than the other.
Now the boxing itself is done pretty neatly, although for a silver medalist Choi's character had a rather amateurish fighting style, which could have been excused for number of reasons. Still it isn't even a complaint, as the boxing was booked sufficiently and to a minimum since the film's number one priority was to plunge you into the lives of these characters before the big showdown.
I guess it's safe to call this a "feel bad" movie, but one with an unorthodox resolution at last, which wasn't as much about guessing, but more about conjugating and accepting. In the end it was another great getaway cinematic experience from Korea, which I find very rewarding when knowing just where to look. Definite recommendation, Ryoo Seung-beom breathed a new life not only into his future career but made his past work seem more subtly meaningful than it actually was.
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