Thursday, July 14, 2011

The City of Violence + The Unjust : NYAFF update - day 13


Day 13 of the NYAFF would feature the films of Ryoo Seung Wan and Lee Joon-Ik which was part of the Korean inspired sea of vengeance theme! The films on the Walter Reade chalkboard on day 13 seemed to be a nice 3 course meal of contrast representing the work of these multifaceted directors. THE CITY OF VIOLENCE, BATTLEFIELD HEROES, & THE UNJUST would anchor the Ryoo Seung Wan and Lee Joon-Ik boat ride! Action, dark comedy, & a crime drama would be the cine-cuisine special of the day! I was only able to set sail with the City of Violence and The Unjust, though.

It took me quite a bit of time to decompress & settle my chi after watching the ultra uber-violent piece of art on film known as THE CITY OF VIOLENCE. To me, this movie is a slice of heaven in my favorite genre of film! Thanks to mondo curry-san for reminding me of this gem last year which I overlooked since 2006! This movie has a non cerebral vengeance plot with some of the most energized martial arts action & raw stunts reminiscent of the 1980-1990’s HK action films! Director, Ryoo Seung Wan & actor, Doo-hong Jung most DEFINITELY displayed the korean art of Tae Kwan Do to its highest form as the ballet like flow of spinning kicks performed with killer instinct & fury was a sight to behold! The story evolved from 5 childhood friends growing up together in a small city with all the friendship dynamics you would expect, to eventually grow up & out while finding their own paths in life. Four of the friends (3 are brothers) remain in the city they grew up in still ruling the roost with original ganster mentality except the older, weaker brother while the 5th friend, Tae-Su is a cop in big city pimpin’ Seoul. One of the five friends would let greed & power get the best of him as he tries to turn the small, quaint city that he grew up in into a money making tourist machine as per the brass of asses from Seoul! “By Any means neccessary” would be a great phrase for this antagonist as nothing will stand in his way, not even lifelong friends! You get a feeling that this character is subconsciously striking back at his old crew from past experiences as a child, now that he has the authority to lash back in different ways to finally achieve the power & fame that he ultimately wanted! The two fight sequences in the movie that will create orgasmic spasms while under the watchful eye include the street fight scene & the finale martial art rendezvous that had the flow of Bruce Lee going through the levels of the pagoda like in the game of death! The street fight scene has got to be on my top 10 list of all time best action skirmishes in a movie! I mean, that sequence totally blew me out of the galaxy! You had the rhythm of the jackie chan like action, battling characters that looked like they could be from THE WARRIORS who teamed up with the korean hip hop/b-boy dance troupe while adding reinforcements from the BMX team & cute korean school girls?! Director Ryoo Seung Wan summed it up perfectly! His state of mind when filming THE CITY OF VIOLENCE incorporated the mindset of a typical 1970’s like crime action drama with Jackie Chan acting, Martin Scorcese directing, Sam Peckinpah editing the film, & Sergio Leone scoring the soundtrack! To me, City of Violence inherited all of those traits & then some! The birds eye-view/overhead camera shots of the fight scenes truly complimented the beautiful art of Tae Kwan Do as they twist & turned 360 degrees while demolishing their opponents! Ryoo Seung Wan would also mention that Tsui Hark’s THE BLADE, John Boorman’s POINT BLANK, & John Woo’s slow motion, big city pimpin’ style really influenced his personality in the direction of the film! Another awesome tidbit of information from the Q&A session with the director after the screening was the question: who was the costume designer? Of course, I forgot the name but the designer was the same person that worked on OLD BOY & LADY VENGEANCE! Ryoo Seung Wan requested that the costume design have the same look & elegance reminiscent to the old Shaw Brother studio films!

I was clenching my fist & kicking dead air when watching this film, y’all! It’s a fun movie to behold with plenty of action that will make you say...ohh..ahh..oh my god..what da! The soundtrack of The City of Violence is off the charts as well! Spaghetti western, korean hip hop along with some bad ass funk is a win, win for me! Get a copy of the DRAGON DYNASTY released version of THE CITY OF VIOLENCE, y’all! You’ll thank me later!

I’m not sure if I have enough words to give THE UNJUST a proper hype-up that it deserves! My 2nd screening of the day directed by Ryoo Seung Wan with the korean sea of vengeance theme in mind from the NYAFF was a by-product of deception in the justice system & the politics that are involved in the internal fight! The aftermath of watching The City of Violence was of the energy zapping sorts & it absorbed all my midi-chlorians (star wars reference)! I might need some tag team help from Mondo Curry & DB with an assist for THE UNJUST bon bon trail to go along with my abbreviated cliff notes! First of all, the movie was filmed with dazzling aesthetics in mind with a suspenseful like artisan precision leaving you to jump around in your seat not knowing what to expect! The cityscape camera shots that would eventually innovate monster like acts manifested by these characters in the so called noble like professions of crime & justice would be stunning to the eye! The Unjust was basically a chess match of corruption involving the south korean crime fighting force of various departments including a prosecutor that was played by the real life brother of Ryoo Seung Yan, & an internal affairs unit. A massive hunt & the pressures of trying to crack the case of a serial killer on the loose that has an affinity for school girls is at large. The local crime unit seemed to have a lead to the real serial killer but unfortunately the team killed him with no substantial evidence that would of clearly convicted him. So goes the massive coverup of trying to frame an innocent somebody X for these killings. The bad cop, bad prosecutor, & bad justice team in general, keep digging themselves deeper and deeper until the truth is unearthed. The dirty cop is one ruthless & selfish son of a bitch willing to do anything including beating up & instilling fear into anyone standing in his way. I would definitely think twice before stealing this dudes lunch money! The prosecutor is no angel, either with his manipulative ways! The ping pong match of covering deceit on top of deceit was fascinating! The action is few & far in between but when something does kick off, someone is getting a deep thrashing of a beatdown! The last 30 minutes of the film will have you jumping around like HOUSE OF PAIN!

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