This is not Oldboy. Ain’t A Bittersweet Life. But definitely one of the best action movies to come out of South Korea in recent years. Directed by Ryu Seung-wan, the movie depicts the deep roots of organized crime in smaller towns in South Korea far away from Seoul and one man’s fight against all odds to bring his best friend’s killer to justice.
4 childhood friends unite after a gap of 20 years. 1 has been brutally killed by someone. The main protagonist – Tae-soo is a detective fighting organized crime in Seoul. He takes a few weeks off from his work and comes down to meet his other friends and find out how, and most importantly why his best friend got killed. Finally, along with one of his other friends, he digs deep, deeper and deeper – till he finds the truth. Which is awful. One of the guys in their group – was responsible for killing off one of the friends, since that guy wished to get some land dealings sorted out for a casino (being sponsored by the gangsters in Seoul). Thus, starts his journey to bring this guy – the murderer – once his best friend – to justice.
Action is ruthless. Stylish. Spotless camera work. Makes you feel you’re watching all the action in front of your eyes. All of it looks so real.
The movie also portrays the difference in lifestyle, culture and crime work in bigger cities and smaller towns. Raw street-fights which are common in smaller towns is depicted so exquisitely throughout. When Tae-soo goes out for a walk one night, he encounters 4 street gangs. And escapes by a whisker. Check out this awesome clip here. I’ve myself watched so many action movies till now, but never seen such nicely choreographed street-free-style action ever! Not surprised Tae-soo was about to get his ass-kicked so bad, when one of his remaining 3 friends, an enforcer in the local mafia, arrives at the scene and saves his sorry ass!
The best section of the movie is at the very end. It moves from the street-fight to serious killer action. Extremely gripping – stylish fighting – knives, katana, karate, free-style – one gets to see all types of action at the finale… If you’re an action junkie and love South Korean movies, this is a definite watch. You wouldn’t find poetry like in Sonatine, or rhythm like in A Bittersweet Life, but The City of Violence is definitely one of the best action thrillers to come out of South Korea in recent times.