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Asking his imprisoned father for money, threatening a friend who became a murderer by mistake, stealing money from his friends; KU Dong-Hyuk (KIM Rae-won) is the worst scumbag you can ever imagine. Living a low-life existence like a street dog, until one day, Dong-hyuk gets kidnapped by a mysterious gang. Held captive for seemingly no reason, Dong-huk is "trained" by the gang in a secret and inhumane way. Dong-Hyuk tries to escape but fails, which makes the training more harsh and cruel than before. After finishing all the training, the gang orders Dong-hyuk to become a police detective as their secret connection. Once on the inside, he experiences divided loyalties. Written by
Ku Dong's life is going nowhere, spending his days beating people in the streets, he seems to be confined to repeat the same mistakes of his father, who happens to be already in jail. Even his younger brother is not far from going into the same tracks.
Then a struck of luck, if you could call it that, hits Ku Dong, a crime syndicate kidnaps him in order to train him to pass the police admission exam. It's something they have been doing for a while, sneaking moles in the police force to protect their leader, and making it easier to do dirty jobs here and there. The training of Ku Dong is both painful and hilarious, a very black humour that seems to be something natural for Korean cinema The thing is, Ku Dong really wanted to be in the force, at first just as an excuse to keep beating people, but eventually starts to realize this is his chance to give his life a real purpose.
Mr Socrates is not particularly original or "different" in terms of the genre, and it will be inevitable for many to compare it with everything from Ritchie/Tarantino stuff (almost a default practice with any crime/gritty movie made in the last years, ironic considering all the stuff Tarantino rips off from Asian cinema) to other Asian crime flicks of recent years. Neverless, the film manages to create it's own identity, and to be both funny and engaging without really pretending to be anything else. The story goes at a nice pacing, the performances are quite convincing, specially in the main lead. There's actually a transformation in the main character, and we can feel it. From an irresponsible thug to a person with a new found sense of direction in his life.
So, score one more for Korean genre cinema. While far from being the best of what the country, and the genre, can offer, i take this any day over many other poorly attempts of "cool-crime/comedy" flicks.
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