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Crying Fist (Jumeogi unda) (2005)

  Directed by: Seung-wan Ryoo
Written by: Seung-wan Ryoo
Starring: Min-sik Choi, Seung-beom Ryu
Links: Crying Fist on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

""Boxing aerobics, my ass."" - a review by timchuma

Boxing stories have been a popular theme for movies since Men Boxing (1891) right through to the more recent Million Dollar Baby (2004). They all tend to follow similar themes with one opponent being the underdog and preparing for a make or break match against all odds.

This movie is quite different to any other boxing movie I have seen, as it follows both of the opponents in their build-up to the big match - even before you know they are going to meet in the ring.

Gang Tae-sik (Min-sik Choi) is a former Asian Games Boxing Silver medallist who becomes a "human punching-bag" on the streets to try and pay off his debts and win back the respect of his family. Yoo Sang-hwan (Seung-beom Ryu) is a young delinquent who is always fighting and stealing. Trying to get money for compensation one day, he mugs an old man who ends up dying, leading to Yoo being sentenced to five years in juvenile detention.

As the movie progresses, we swap between the two main characters to see all their trials, including Yoo biting off part of someone's ear in a brawl (a reference to the Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield fight). Gang has trouble once he is shown on TV and his creditors catch up with him; added to this is his son being ashamed of him after he goes to do a talk at his school and makes a fool of himself. After various harsh experiences and failures, both characters decide they want to compete in the national championships, even if it means they will die (they are that serious). The training montages are quite similar, but serve to contrast Yoo's training in the gym with Gang's methods on the rooftop where he lives.

As you would expect, the boxing scenes are quite brutal. I wish they didn't move the camera around so much as it was hard to watch at times. I did enjoy the scenes where they went 360 degrees around the main characters as it gave a greater sense of place and helped you be there with the characters.

The main reason I wanted to see this movie was to see how Min-sik Choi went after his powerhouse performance in Oldboy (2003). While it is not quite up to that level, you do really believe he is Gang Tae-sik and you are not just watching him playing a character. I thought that Seung-beom Ryu as Yoo Sang-hwan wasn't as strong, but he was still very good and I look forward to seeing him in in the future.

I enjoyed the soundtrack of Korean country style music as it is much different to the Eye of the Tiger rock music that you would expect from this type of movie. I would definitely consider buying the soundtrack when I have the chance to buy the movie.

While I have not seen any previous work from this director, after this movie I am going to make an effort to check out his previous work as I have heard that it is quite good. When I first heard of this movie, I thought it would be similar to the upcoming Cinderella Man (2005), or the previous classics of Raging Bull (1980) or Rocky (1976). I am pleased to say that it is quite different to those movies and while it is not my favourite movie on the subject (When We Were Kings (1996) is still the best), it is definitely one of my favourites of the genre.

timchuma gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 1 Aug 2005

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Reader comments

  1. Also of note on the soundtrack is the traditional Maori love song 'Pokarekare Ana' that appears throughout the movie. It turns out the song was brought over to Korea during the Korean War in the 1950s by New Zealand soldiers and has been well known ever since. Having learnt about the meaning of the song, it is particularly well suited to the film.

    A comment from nofreelist's own timchuma on Tue 02 Aug 2005 09:36 #

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