Seung-wan Ryoo has been praised as South Korea’s Tarantino. His films always differ from his previous offerings and The City of Violence, his seventh film, pays homage to the early kung-fu films of the 1970s.
The hero, rookie detective Tae-Su, arrives in his hometown of Seoul after ten years and joins his childhood friends Seok-hwan and Pil-ho after learning that his best friend was killed. Sworn to avenge his friend’s death, he teams up with Seok-hwan. Together, they slowly unravel the mystery surrounding his untimely departure. What they learn is the familiar trail of deceit and betrayal.
…when Seung-wan says “action”, he means action!
As this is a Seung-wan Ryoo film, when he says “action”, he means action! The fight scenes are reminiscent of his previous work and with the inclusion of a Drum ‘n’ Bass soundtrack, what could have been prolonged, over-indulgent action sequences become a joy to watch.
Particular highlights include the night-brawl, which gives The Matrix a run for its money and the climax of the enemy’s lair scenario which feels like a multi-levelled console platform game. The injected humour also provides an understanding into Seung-wan’s want for realistic characters.
…only one key scene that evokes any true emotion.
Although effective, the energetic music falls flat on exuding any true emotion from the narrative. It is a pity that with the quieter moments in the story, the empathy fails to reach the audience. There are moments of real dilemma but only one key scene that evokes any true emotion.
Image courtesy of The City of Violence