Based on actual events in South Korea’s recent history, Director Kang Yun-sung’s CRIME CITY (also titled as The Outlaws) fictionalises the year 2004 when the Seoul Police did a mop up operation in order to eliminate the Chinese-Korean gangs existing in the Garibong District. Although this film is not as grand and serious as other gangster genre films such as ‘Nameless Gangster’ and ‘New World’, it still has a vast array of characters to deal with. First there is the police, second, there are four gangs, two of which are Chinese-Korean, and the other two purely Korean, and third, there is a villain with his side kicks, who are as strong as the protagonist but much cleverer. CRIME CITY Is A Fictionalised Version Of True Events
Ma Dong-seok), the main protagonist enters the scene of a brawl taking place. Holding a phone to his ear in one hand and breaking another guy’s hand with the other without much effort while continuing on with conversation made me realise that it would be quite contrary to what I was looking forward to. Ha Seok-do turns out to be a one punch man, a tough fearless cop who doesn’t expect himself to be killed and a flirt who doesn’t get drunk that easily, but does wake up the next morning with a hangover though. Infact his persona is so powerful that even the gang bosses fear him. He is a perfect satirical portrait of how a real life cop should be.
With the entry of Jang Chen (Yoon Kye-sang), the main antagonist, the film sets itself in a dog eat dog world. Teamed up with his two very loyal side kicks he gets into a turf war, instilling fear in other people’s hearts including the Chinese-Korean gang bosses whose businesses he starts taking over. He becomes the epitome of fear when butchered dead bodies start appearing in tied up trash bags and suitcases. This character has an eerie resemblance to Nicolas Cage’s in Red Rock West who uncovers the corruption which is rampant in a town which from afar looks peaceful. Just like that, even though this character is completely evil itself, it uncovers the corruption and rivalry amongst the Korean gang bosses, who are thirsty for each others blood.
There are no car chases in the film, but there is a lot of running around up and down the narrow streets including three storey buildings and roofs. Of course, as it is an action film, there is some amount of martial arts action, but there’s a lot more deliberately imperfectly choreographed action scenes with men holding weapons like axes, knives, rods and pipes, or any other harmful objects that comes in their hands. The final fight is quite well choreographed, and excellently executed which takes place in a toilet, which is not as shabby looking as it was in Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig.
Although the subject matter of the film is quite grotesque and violent in nature, Kang Yun-sung neutralises them by placing comedy filled scenes, one being such in which a violent fight takes place only to be countered with the concerned personell coming forward with a bill and a smile on their face stating how much damage had been done and what amount of money would be needed for repairs!
The film as a whole is a completely watchable one. It is an action comedy film, with no romantic endeavours, sex or nudity involved. Script is quite well written and cinematography is quite exceptional during the one on one fight scenes. I would recommend this film and would urge you not to miss out on this one. It would definitely go down as one of the best South Korean films to learn from in the future.
Tags: 12th London Korean Film Festival 2017, London Korean Film Festival
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