The familiar tale of the rookie crook rising up the ranks by any means possible gets a fresh, invigorating polish in this richly entertaining, emotionally textured Korean gangster movie.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
The familiar tale of the rookie crook rising up the ranks by any means possible gets a fresh, invigorating polish in this soulful and deeply absorbing Korean triad melodrama that will give its Hong Kong and Japanese counterparts a run for their collective money. Byeong-du (the impeccable Jo In-seong, who nabbed Best Actor at the Korean Film Awards) is an ambitious thug who’s eager to get ahead in the crime world to support his poor family, but the re-appearance in his life of old school pal Min-ho (Nam Gung-min), now a filmmaker researching his new gangster flick, and childhood flame Hyeon-ju (Lee Bo-yeong) suddenly complicates matters. Deftly mixing brotherly camaraderie, doomed romance, film-within-a-film cleverness and wince-inducing brutality, A Dirty Carnival is the most richly entertaining, emotionally textured gangster movie to come out of Korea, or any country, in quite some time. It’s every bit as accomplished as last year’s A Bittersweet Life, with gob-smackingly violent knife-fights and baseball-bat brawls that match the latter for heart-stopping excitement and astounding choreography.