The City of Violence - 2 Disc Collector's Edition [DVD]
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Korean cinema's assault on the senses of Western filmgoers continues in dazzling style with the violent crime thriller-cum-martial arts actioner, THE CITY OF VIOLENCE, the latest offering from the man who has been hailed as the Korean Tarantino, "Crying Fist" director Ryoo Seung-wan. Both satirizing and paying homage in equal measure to the gritty action flicks of the 1970s, while combining elements of Scorsese's "Goodfellas" and Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle" with referential nods to the likes of Walter Hill's "The Warriors", THE CITY OF VIOLENCE is a supremely entertaining work that scores on every level. Detective Jeong Tae-su (played by martial arts wizard Jeong Du-hong), returns from Seoul to Onsung, the hometown of his youth to attend the funeral of his long-time friend, a reformed small-time mobster, Wang-jae (Ahn Gil-gang). There, following a nostalgic reunion with his gang of former childhood buddies, he becomes obsessed with investigating the circumstances surrounding Wang-jae's death. What he uncovers sparks a chain of events that results in Jeong and his buddy Ryoo (played by director Seung-wan himself) being forced to battle it out with teenage gangs, deadly assassins and a horde of murderous mobsters as they get closer to the truth. Slickly exploiting the "grindhouse" style of filmmaking usually associated with 1970s cinema, and boasting astonishing fight scenes and action sequences choreographed and performed by Korea's leading martial arts practitioners, THE CITY OF VIOLENCE charges non-stop from one set-piece to another resulting in an action-packed cinematic jolt of adrenalin guaranteed to leave audiences breathless. Film fans will also find additional pleasure in spotting and revelling in Seung-wan's affectionate homages to many Hollywood favourites, including Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me", Brian De Palma's "The Untouchables" and Tarantino's "Kill Bill" amongst others.
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This story entails Tae-Su (Doo-Hong Jung) who works as a policeman in Seoul, due to the murder of a former schoolmate after many years in his home town returns, only to realize that things have changed fundamentally. There are now brutal youth gangs, the night the roads unsafe and Tae-Su presumed to be stuck behind the murder. Together with another friend of his youth - Pil Ho - makes it to search for the murderer.
This film ultimately reminded me of a revenge story in the cool'70s style, with good martial-arts sequences, which I have seen from Korea. The most notable feature in the great battle on road when the camera is very close to the action on it, and you do not always match the fighting, which sometimes chaotic adrift into something. The music selection is exemplary; it falls between hip-hop, Western scores and jazz is cool, run 93 minutes in length with very crisp, elegant retro style that contributes to the atmosphere. Leading actors Doo-Hong Jung (Tae-Su) can be fully convincing and shows us the best performance of his career. Ultimately, again a film that offers very little that is new, but at least his exemplary quotes parade passed, and guaranteed an audience.
Like I stated before the weak point of this film is the story itself which is told too quickly. Of course, there is also a city gangsters and consequently many situations, with words no longer clear, but hand edges, and billets of action which is exactly why The City of Violence is worth seeing.
Really enjoyed this, sat down with a mate of mine who is also into Kung Fu flicks and we had a right laugh, whilst we chuckled our way through the action on display.
Many of the other reviewers have scored this as mediocre, due to its lack of a decent plot and stating that it rips off Kill Bill etc. Which may be fair, but Kill Bill was hardly original now was it! Also, and I'll be honest, in that if a kung fu film has a derivative story, so what, as that's hardly news either. What I watch these movies for are kickass fisticuffs, violence, and a neat style, along with good characters and cool dialogue. Which in it's defence, TCoV has all of.
Ultimately its good fun, the action is frenetic, with a 'two stand against many' theme, the score is great and I really dug the awesome retro 70's feel. Kinda like watching an old Sonny Chiba film like The Bodyguard but without his presence and skill (obviously!)..
I also particularly liked the song when they were kids fighting a pack of bullies, that was ace. And the fight against the professional bodyguards at the end is very enjoyable.
Okay, its not the best but to be honest, I didn't have any expectations at all going into this, and for me, it certainly hits the spot, especially if you've spent far too many hours in front of a tele, for the last 30yrs, watching nonsense like this!
4.25/5 rounded down. The print on the 2 disc Collectors Ed. is fine, with a glut of extras that I haven't watched yet. Extras included are a making of, interviews, doc's, deleted scenes etc.
At a cheap price, don't hesitate.
The film starts very slowly, but does have a fight at a funeral. The chap playing the bad guy is clearly having a magnificent time. Bits of the plot don't quite add up, but it's called City of Violence, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Lots of men (and one woman) fight each other in a variety of beautifully choreographed ways using weapons and tables etc.
You should also be warned, the polo neck jumper appears a lot more than you might expect in this film.
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