An IMDB review really got me excited about this one. I wish I had also noticed that it was the *only* review for the film. That might’ve helped me adjust my expectations a bit. Anyway, so this turned out to be not-at-all Godfather-like. Mostly a mess really. The basic premise is that a famous General’s son becomes a gangster but a good-hearted one who helps a whole bunch of prostitutes with their various problems. Oh and all of this is taking place against a backdrop of Japanese-occupied Korea and one of the gang leaders that our hero has to deal with is a Japanese Yakuza guy. Okay, so now that you have the basic plot, I’ll be making the rest of my arguments with a liberal use of screenshots to give you an idea of what watching this film was like.
Firstly, I could never really warm up to our hero who I constantly found vain and full of himself. Some of his first few words to his friend after he has just gotten out of jail:
One of the key success factors for our protagonist is the fact that he is supposed to be a really good fighter – an expert at hand to hand combat. But somehow his metrosexual attire and his slightly pudgy appearance kept me from ever being able to buy into this completely. See screenshot below where he is just about to beat the crap out of this other guy.
There are a lot of similar scenes on the street, often at the exact same location , where we see this guy beat up other guys. Unfortunately, given my rather limited experience with these types of films, everytime a scene like this came up, I found myself wishing I was watching Legend of the Drunken Master instead!
The film is just chock-full of ludicrous scenes. Part of this could be just the poor subtitles (a recurring themes with the films I seem to pick for this bracket) but here again, I am convinced that the problem goes beyond that. There is no way this stuff could sound anything but laughable in any language!
This is the scene where the women in the whorehouse are being introduced to the general’s son and this is what the guy has to say about one of the women:
And our hero often speaks in Yoda-like sentences where he keeps dropping pronouns, which made him even more annoying to me:
Thankfully, the film has some important life-lessons that I think we could all do with .
And our hero has values that we could all adopt. Please note that he is speaking in metaphors here!
But I was wrong about what I said earlier, because sometimes our hero is the very symbol of humility:
Unfortunately, the Tokyo-educated intellectual doesn’t get much better lines either. Incidentally, he is the only guy in the entire movie who wears glasses and shabby clothes!
Anyway, so bad subs and ridiculous lines are by no means the worst things about the film. Unfortunately, it is populated with two entirely uncharismatic leads. Neither the hero nor the badly made-up heroine managed to interest me at any point during the film. The camera moves around ALL the time never staying still and I just found that annoying most of the time. Then there are a whole bunch of overhead shots at various points during the film, especially of people sitting around a long table and I just found them vaguely distracting.
The plot jumps around just as much as the camera. There’s a whole sequence where the guy is working selling snacks at the movie theater and there’s a scene where a kid urinates in the theater and the whole thing has nothing to do with anything. It was just there and maybe it was supposed to help me learn something about the guy’s character (that he is kind and benevolent?) but nah, didn’t really work. Really, the whole movie just felt to me like a sequence of events with no real build-up to anything and where the individual events aren’t particularly interesting.
The score is overpowering and dramatic and irritating. There are a couple of back-stories: one for the knife-thrower guy and one for the general’s scene. The first one, I thought, was either sposed to make me believe that the knife-thrower is truly as badass as everyone says he is or that he is actually just human and tender-hearted like everyone else. It did neither. It elicited a meh reaction from me just like the rest of the movie. There is an episode from the general’s son’s childhood that is re-enacted and is equally ineffective. Plus, the whole thing about him being the son of this major hero is just hurriedly talked about for a bit at the end and has no really payoff or bearing on the rest of the film.
The women seemed uniformly loud and screechy to me and were just props. This is not a problem in and of itself but their squealing hurt my ears making the experience worse.
I know I’m being really mean to this movie and I really do mean to stop but I have to mention one last thing. Sometime around the 1/3rd mark, our hero ends up underperforming while having sex with one of the prostitutes. Later on in the film, he has sex with the prostitute he is actually in love with and this time he is totally great and she looks totally pleased and the way that scene ends is by cutting to the sound of loud applause .
A lot of what I’ve said here probably sounds like nitpicking but the movie is dull and all I could to do to stay interested was to notice all the stuff that sucked about it. The fight scenes are decent I guess. Those were definitely my favorite parts of the movie and I quite enjoyed seeing these choreographed fight scenes in a movie after a long time.
This movie reminded me of several really cheesy Bollywood movies that I’ve watched and that is rarely a good thing.