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Tae-su, a detective fighting organized crime, returns to his hometown for his high school friend Wang-jae's funeral. At the funeral, he meets his old friends Pil-ho, Dong-hwan and Seok-hwan and they reminisce. Suspecting something fishy about Wang-jae's death, Tae-su and Seok-hwan start investigating it each in his own way. Both of their investigations lead to a land development project that Pil-ho is directing and the two embark on a difficult battle. Written by
An enjoyable, but unexceptional Korean revenge/action flick.
Policeman Tae-su (Doo-hong Jung) returns to his hometown for the funeral of murdered childhood friend Wang-jae, where he is reunited with old pals Pil-ho (Beom-su Lee), Dong-hwan (Seok-yong Jeong) and Seok-hwan (Seung-wan Ryoo). Upon investigating Wang-jae's murder, Tae-su discovers that it was one of his own circle of friends who committed the crime.
The Koreans have given us some damn fine cinema in recent years, and having heard good things about The City of Violence, my expectations were running extremely high.
Which is probably where I went wrong.
Rather than being absolutely blown away by all aspects of the film, as I had hoped, I was merely entertained on a superficial level: the chaotic fight scenes are fun but uninspired (a few original, well choreographed 'killer moves' would have seriously improved matters); the drama is OK, but kinda clichéd, with the 'inseparable childhood friends divided as adults' theme having been done many times before; and the stylish visual touches employed by the director, whilst admittedly cool, do little to help one follow the plot and are used a tad too liberally for my liking.
The film also has a tendency to flip rather uncomfortably between comic book action and more realistic violence, with the film's heroes emerging relatively unscathed from a battle against 'Warriors'-style gangs of teenagers one minute, but taking on knife wielding gangsters with suitably bloody results the next.
I rate The City of Violence a reasonable 6.5 out of 10, generously rounded up to 7 for its particularly loathsome bad-guy, who finally gets his comeuppance after a prolonged battle inside a restaurant.
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