Written by Fumo Verde
The City of Violence? Have these people been to Detroit?
Sure there were great fight scenes, but they were few and far between to deal with the Soba noodle of a plot you have to bare just to get to the action. Director Seung-Wan artfully captured some of the best fights I’ve seen in a long time and the actors performed in the usual South Korean soap opera style—not over the top, but just pushing that edge. The City of Violence is fun and exciting but not because it has that air of mystery about it. The beauty of this movie lays in the cinematography and how it masterfully caught the fine choreographed moves of the Tae Kwon Do fight scenes.
The story is about five friends who have grown up together and have already come of age, so no boobs, okay. Three of them are hoods, Asian Mafia types, and another becomes a cop. Why and how these guys come to be who they are is not explained. When Wang-jae, the thug gone straight, gets murdered in the back alley of his own bar, it is up to his friends to figure out who did it and why. Within the first five minutes I knew the character that did it, and twenty minutes later we all find out why. The rest of the time is spent on letting Tae-su and Seok-hwan figure out what happened. Once this is discovered its time for to seek revenge.
The best fight scene comes near the beginning. Tae-su and Seok-hwan are confronted with about sixty teenagers dressed in outfits ranging from school girl uniforms to the baseball kids from The Warriors and so on. After our two heroes fight off this motley crew, they must face even tougher battles down the road. When the final battle happens, it is one hell of a fight. Was it worth waiting for? I thought so. Seung-Wan frames the fight movements like his idol, Quentin Tarantino, making the battle look more like a dance than a brawl. Would I consider these “produced fights” Bruce Lee-worthy? On a scale from 1 to 10, I give The City of Violence an 8 for fights and a 2 for plot strength.
The two-disc Ultimate Edition comes with a “how it was made” DVD. I was amazed how long it took and how hard this crew worked on getting these incredible fights right. I wish the writers would have worked on the script as long. The extras include deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and director. I like extras like this, going behind the scenes and finding out how the studios create “lighting in a bottle” as it is sometimes called, or used to be.
The City of Violence was exciting when the fight was on. When it wasn’t, it really didn’t matter. Dragon Dynasty has a lot of good movies; this one was just one of their lower grade ones. If you can rent it for a buck, or better yet, wait till a lazy Sunday afternoon and see if you can catch it on Kung-Fu Theater. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a double feature that includes Master of the Flying Guillotine.