Friday, August 22, 2008
Jo In-seong is charismatic and tough as nails as a low-ranking enforcer in this absorbing, fast-paced gangster flick. Nothing particularly new story-wise, it's more a collection of classic genre tropes seen through the lens of contemporary Korean culture. So your gangland-style killings are followed up by singing at the karaoke club and plenty of soju. There's a wonderfully visceral quality to the violence, something we've seen in many Korean films -- I dunno, Korean filmmakers just know how to do brutal like no one else. Interestingly, there's nary a gun in A Dirty Carnival, the mobsters preferring baseball bats, knives and the odd club with nails in it, making the proceedings that much more up close and personal. Recommended.