[K-FILM REVIEWS] 주먹이 운다 (Crying Fist)
(Crying Fist, KOREA 2005)
JumeokI Unda (lit. The Fist is Crying)
134min - 35mm Cinemascope (2.35:1) - Colour
Rating: 15 and over
Released in Korea on 4/1/2005
Total National Admissions (Approx.): 1,728,477
Produced by: 시오필름 (Sio Film), Bravo Entertainment
Distributed by: 쇼이스트 (Show East)
Note: The review contains spoilers
Director 류승완 (Ryu Seung-Wan)
[변질헤드 (Transmutated Head, 1996 SHORT), 죽거나 혹은 나쁘거나 (Die Bad, 2000), 다찌마와 리 (Dajjimawa Lee, 2000 INTERNET SHORT), 피도 눈물도 없이 (No Blood No Tears, 2002), 아라한 장풍대작전 (Arahan, 2004), 주먹이 운다 (Crying Fist, 2005), 남자니까 아시잖아요? (Hey, Man~, 2005 OMNIBUS)]
Writer 류승완 (Ryu Seung-Wan), 전철홍 (Jeon Cheol-Hong)
Director of Photography 조용규 (Jo Yong-Gyu)
Music 방준석 (Bang Joon-Seok), 복숭아 (Peach)
Editor 남나영 (Nam Na-Young), 이익성 (Lee Ik-Seong)
Action Director: 정두홍 (Jung Doo-Hong)
최민식 (Choi Min-Shik), 류승범 (Ryu Seung-Beom), 임원희 (Im Won-Hee), 변희봉 (Byun Hee-Bong), 나문희 (Na Moon-Hee), 기주봉 (Gi Ju-Bong), 천호진 (Cheon Ho-Jin), 안길강 (Ahn Gil-Gang), 김수현 (Kim Soo-Hyun), 오달수 (Oh Dal-Soo), 서혜린 (Seo Hye-Rin), 이준구 (Lee Joon-Goo), 김영인 (Kim Young-In), 박주아 (Park Joo-Ah)
CAMEO: 김병옥 (Kim Byung-Ok), 이정헌 (Lee Jung-Heon), 정정훈 (Jung Jung-Hoon)
The poorest neighborhood in town, buried in eternal darkness, where nothing good seems to happen. A young man down on his luck, no future for him on the horizon. The only way to continue fighting, find something that will make his miserable life worth living is boxing. Two men, one ring. When you ring the bell, it's as fair as sports can get. You slack and you'll see the mat. You do well, you become the champion. And then it's the good life, nice cars, a new house. It was all worth it, after all. And you can scream, scream because you won, you slammed your foe to the mat with a mean uppercut. "Adrian~!"
But... Hey! That's another film, right?
When you think about it, boxing is like life. You work hard for a long time, preparing for the biggest match of your career. There are people helping you get there, teaching you what to do based on their experience. But, ultimately, when you put on the gloves and enter that ring, you're by yourself. All you've learned is put to the test, how your body and mind react to the obstacles put in front of you depends on how prepared you are. How many hits you can take before falling down and giving up. Boxing, like life, is not about winning, but surviving, until the end; it doesn't matter how you get there, what you do to reach that goal... all it matters is being there. Being able to say I've done it, I'm a survivor. And it's only then that you can really understand the meaning of winning. Ryu Seung-Wan's 주먹이 운다 (Crying Fist) is a film about the huge boxing ring that is life, where surviving is the only thing that matters. Where people who experience the bottom of the barrel are able to survive through fundamental emotions: rage and hope.
I remember the first time I saw Ryu, playing an extra in Park Chan-Wook's 3인조 (Threesome). Was it 1996? Maybe 97. Skinny like a stick, eating ramen next to the big stars Lee Kyung-Young and Kim Min-Jong. He was just one of Park's assistant directors back then. Film running through his veins, creating that at times intoxicating feeling, that will to make something out of his passion. Even knowing it was next to impossible, trying hard to do something about it. His short films were the result of those 25 years of struggling, of dreaming, of hoping. He didn't graduate from a prestigious foreign university or major in film studies. All he had to show was the memories of a childhood spent watching films: Sam Peckinpah, Buster Keaton, those incredible Shaw Brothers weekend showings, full of mystery and enjoyment. Lee Doo-Yong and Lee Hyuk-Soo's films, and all those other 70s Korean action flicks with Lee Dae-Geun, Jang Dong-Hwi, Kim Young-In and Park No-Shik, so drenched in hilarious machismo and kitsch atmosphere, yet so entertaining. Jackie Chan and his incredible feats, John Woo's tragic heroes... it was all on his mind, floating. All his personal experiences, the dreams he made while watching those films, the action scenes he set up in the backyard playing with his brother, it was all there. Two rushes of adrenaline that shocked a little district in Seoul called Chungmuro. Two short films that changed a person's life forever, winning him awards at important Film Festivals, and even a contract to tie them together (adding two new shorts) for a feature length film, which brought more people to the theater than big money blockbusters with huge stars. All he had to his name was some leftover film stock, a few friends from the industry willing to help, and 25 years of imagination. Enter 죽거나 혹은 나쁘거나 (Die Bad).
Die Bad wasn't just a phenomenal debut film, it was a shock to the system. Korean Cinema was emerging from a decade long crisis thanks to incredibly talented filmmakers, but they were mostly confined to the arthouse sphere. The industry was lacking young blood willing to shake the conventions of genre and commercial cinema. Comedy, horror, extremely well choreographed action, a slice of life meets coming of age drama that isn't phony. Part Marty Scorsese meets Peckinpah, part Choi Min-Soo action noir without the over the top macho bullshit. It all worked, all fit perfectly. It was funny, the action was great, the final part incredibly powerful. Even Ryu's little brother Seung-Beom looked like a star in the making. Ryu Seung-Wan became the new enfant prodige of Korean Cinema. But the 25 years of training Ryu underwent and his first win didn't make Ryu more confident, ready for a new fight with a bigger opponent. It just made things worse, more complicated, harder to accept. The world of curiosity, wonder and creativity he built in his mind crashed under the weight of the movie business' system. His great debut meant acclaim from critics, more acclaim meant the attention of big time producers interested in working with him, and more money to spend on his next project; more money meant more obstacles. No more free flowing of ideas, less chances to take risks, a bigger burden. Ryu's first real feature film, 피도 눈물도 없이 (No Blood No Tears) strolled out two years later to little fanfare. It starred one of the three biggest actresses in the country, Jeon Do-Yeon, but it was too dark for the average multiplex fan. It oozed genre Cinema and was a delight to watch, - employing some past greats like Kim Young-In, Baek Il-Seob and Bae Chan-Gi, using what Ryu learned during those two years to perfection - yet people felt lukewarm toward it. A flop at the box office, panned by critics, and more questions. Where was the guy who made Die Bad?
아라한-장풍대작전 (Arahan) was Ryu having fun, employing the big budget to do what he couldn't before. Silly and entertaining, but also taking its influences seriously, not to merely distance himself from the others, not trying to be 'cool.' An obvious commercial film with the main intent of entertaining the masses, and showing how far Korean action had come in the last 5 years. Yet, critics misunderstood him again: on the Korean side, almost treating him like a sell out, again asking for the grittiness of Die Bad; on the Western front, trying to label him anyway they could, to mask the fact they didn't understand his work. Ryu must have suffered a lot during this period. A few interviews with Film2.0 and Cine21, where he basically asks himself what kind of sin he committed to be treated like that, the proof of his dilemma. A victim of the sinner/saint dichotomy that so often plagues film criticism. Was he like everyone else, trying to win over the crowds above everything else... or still the enfant prodige with his creativity and incredible ability to make his influences help him create something unique? And to think he just wanted to make the films he liked...
When it was announced Ryu's next project would be about boxing, the rows of people in the industry expecting some sort of sports drama enriched with his style grew. But this is not a sports drama, it's barely about sports at all. Boxing is just a very fitting metaphor for life, a tool to make a statement. The film, above all else, is a story about surviving, never giving up, because even when hope is all that's left, there's a way out. Yes, it's a predictable and tired cliche, but the important thing is making those cliches look convincing; it's giving a sense of sincerity and honesty to everything you do. Then even the most tired plot device of all can work: the underdog fighting all odds to win. But what happens when the underdogs are two, and even though they're fighting each other at end, the only person they have to conquer is themselves?
Sang-Hwan (Ryu Seung-Beom) is your average juvenile punk, his hairstyle more of a barrier to keep people at a distance than a fashion statement, lest they might find what really lies inside him. He's constantly fighting against the law, his bad luck, parents who clearly care about him but cannot do anything to save him. He survives through primal instincts: rage, fear, violence. If he wants something, he steals it; if someone disrespects him, he beats him up; if things go wrong, he lets fear dictate what his first reaction will be. Life in the cell scares him less than trying to live the right way, because he can't really fathom how someone like him could do that. He knows that somewhere, out there where he can't reach it, lies happiness, but there's something holding him back. Blinding him, suffocating him, letting his body and anger take his decisions for him.
Kang Tae-Shik (Choi Min-Shik) is no different: a past Asian Games silver medalist, now the only thing left of his past glory is a medal, a failed marriage, and enough debts to make a family crumble. He doesn't have the force to fight it anymore, his only way of keeping those 20 years of repressed rage in check being his newfound occupation: playing a human sandbag on the streets. The only reason he doesn't jump in the Han River being his pride, that fear people might think of him a loser because he left his family in the dark taking the easy way out. He lives like a spirit, wandering from district to district playing the fool of the village, entertaining people and letting them vent their frustrations on him for a mere 10,000 Won. Even past friends and foes come back to him, all trying to look for the same thing: money. His health is deteriorating fast, he's barely able to read now, because of all the blows he had to take. But he keeps going on, there must be something for him to do. Something that will make life worth living again.
That something those people find is a Boxing competition, nothing special for most people, but a way out for them. A little money, some recognition from the public, but best of all, a shred of normality. A new beginning, maybe even a new life. Is that enough to make them swallow their pride, and try hard for once? Give it all they've got, no matter what happens at the end, because that'll mean they finally accomplished something. Tae-Shik says just getting to that 6th round would be a victory, it would show his wife he's not a good for nothing bum after all, it would make his kid a little less embarrassed of his father, even though they barely have a relationship. It would make Tae-Shik find something worth fighting for. For Sang-Hwan, that stage could be a way to channel all his fury into something constructive, find a decent way to live.
The way Ryu separates the two stories, giving emphasis to different stages of suffering (youth angst and middle age crisis) only ends up making them stronger. He never makes the final encounter some ridiculous 'Rumble in the Jungle' like moment, because it clearly doesn't need to be. Also, one thing he wasn't able to do as well in his past works, every single piece of action in this film is connected at heart with the story. There's no 'Ok, let's kick ass' moment in the film, everything has its own meaning. And, in line with Jung Doo-Hong's continued development, everything he learned so far converges into a new point, a new style: that of having no style, of making action that, like very good CG effects, perfectly blends with the story. That's the best gift that Ryu received working with Jung. His realism and matter of fact action style has reached a level of complexity and synergy with the normal foundations of filmmaking that few people can dream of having.
Choi Min-Shik, Ryu Seung-Beom. An interesting pair, to say the least. Choi has become famous for his incredible eruptions of charisma, yet he's so repressed, introverted, almost banal here. His attachment to a silly medal the only thing he has to his name, Tae-Shik might be seen as a loser, an asshole with no social values. But the major strength of Ryu's film is that it never beautifies its characters' problems. There's no fairy tales telling us that even though they're poor, life is beautiful. It's because the film is so sincere in dealing with those bottom of the barrel situations that the sentiments the final part of the film evokes ring true in an incredibly powerful way. It's because Tae-Shik is such a good for nothing asshole, whose 'goodness of heart' is never shown that we feel happy for him at the end of the film. Just like with Sang-Hwan, all that explosive rage finally finding a meaning, finally able to be respected by his family, finally able to believe something could change. While Choi had nothing to prove, Ryu Seung-Beom had only shown he had great potential so far. He was constantly put in those situations where a youngster with talent could emerge, stealing the show. But, this time the show is all his. Just like his character in Arahan, all that Ki he releases is amazing to see. I've never seen a young Korean actor (with the possible exception of Yang Dong-Geun in the TV Drama Ruler of Your Own World) exhibit that kind of rage, that passion, that power and be so convincing. This is clearly the role that will change his career, from 'that talented young star' to one of the country's leading acting figures.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The supporting characters are just as good as the leads. Oh Dal-Soo, abandoning his eccentric cool to play a real loser; Cheon Ho-Jin, a name that will sound unfamiliar to many people, but one of the finest character actors in Korea (he's been in some classic TV Dramas too, like the amazing 산 - Manaslu), conveying that air of human suffering with great subtlety; the great Byun Hee-Bong --responsible for many of the most striking cameo and supporting roles in recent Korean Cinema-- showing his versatility with a quiet and subdued character; Im Won-Hee, the funniest face in Korean Cinema, still trying to prove he's actually a pretty damn good actor, playing the conman who shows some humanity toward one of his friends; Ahn Gil-Gang, the prison ward who understands Sang-Hwan's position better than anybody, and wants to help; Kim Soo-Hyun, who appeared in all of Ryu's films, viciously annoying and irritating; Gi Ju-Bong, who starred in a Million films and TV Dramas, yet can disappear under the guise of his roles every single time, leaving a mark on the viewers. And, obviously, Na Moon-Hee. The (grand)mother figure that every director would want to have. That last scene after the match is so simple, so incredibly striking, it reminded me of my own grandmother. Yeah... it might not be the most intelligent thing to bring up when talking about a film, but sometimes great acting and sincerity from the filmmakers can go a long, long way. I'll challenge anyone who's had more or less troubled relationships with their family, or even those who didn't, to stay still, to not be affected by her performance. Such a small character, but given the right pathos and attention, and enough freedom to add her personal touch to that person. A really memorable performance, no surprise from such an actress.
Crying Fist is Ryu's graduation project, a stepping stone to perhaps greater things to come in the future. All these years spent getting a general idea of how film criticism works in Korea, how filmgoers are influenced by it. The needs of both parties, his needs, the expectations of his peers. And, last but not least, his International status, still in a dangerous limbo between arthouse acceptance and 'fanboy' land. The maturity Ryu shows in this project, the newfound stability that makes the film flow perfectly, the fact he's been able to strip himself of his influences and create something that even defies the world 'genre' shows all those hard times were worth something. They were like hard training for an important match, perhaps the most important of his career: finding his voice. Now it's no more wonderkid, enfant prodige, the Korean Tarantino or Scorsese... it's just Ryu Seung-Wan. And I think we can all be happy for that.
VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES
Great stuff here, folks. It would be pretty hard to compare this to other really good DVDs like Arahan or Marathon in terms of picture quality, since the shooting conditions were much different. Bleach Bypass is not the easiest of things to deal with when producing a DVD, and while there's the occasional amount of edge enhancement and anti-aliasing problems, most of the transfer looks spectacular. Contrasts, colours, skin tones... all superb. No digital noise to be seen, and the print is in pristine condition. Really excellent work. The sound is also spectacular, but don't expect the kind of surround activity of other action films. It's kind of hard to explain, but it makes you feel a sense of realism that I haven't felt too often with Korean DVDs, and it's not intrusive like a lot of R1 soundtracks.
For the first time in a long while I can say I have no problems with the subtitles. Good translation, not taking too much freedom, translating enough without losing the colour of dialogue, but never going over the top. It also translates signs and letters, and the lyrics for the songs. Good timing, nice, clearly readable font. Excellent.
Commentary with Director Ryu Seung-Wan
There are people who can record entertaining and interesting commentaries (Park Chan-Wook, Kim Jee-woon), but some people seem born to do it. Ryu Seung-Wan is one of them. Not only does he treat this particular format as a chance to discuss film in a way that's almost never possible via interviews, but he's able to engage the listener, adding personal thoughts and quickly summing up the meaning of the scene he's commenting. It's like a very long conversation, always interesting, with enough information to fill a book. He can be hilarious when doing them with other people, or having fun with the format (his 'Ladies and Gentlemen, please take a look at the boom mike falling!' in Die Bad), he has the balls to allow criticism about his films (No Blood No Tears commentary), but this time, doing it alone, it really gave a dimension to his loving films that's even beyond what I expected. Note that, even with the pathetic state the DVD market in Korea is at the moment --with no budget for most titles, most releases selling only 10 to 15,000 copies-- and considering how busy he is, he still finds time to record commentaries for the Korean Shaw Brothers release, which are infinitely more entertaining and informative than any other HK film related commentaries I've heard. I doubt he's getting paid anything more than a nominal fee for that. It might be too much information to sit through, more than 2 hours of love for cinema conveyed in a way that never distances the viewer. But Ryu is able to make you part of the viewing experience, like if he were explaining the film in our living room, sitting with us on a sofa. Here's a few highlights:
- Ryu liked Bang Joon-Seok's opening guitar theme, saying it fit well the aura of Choi Min-Shik's character. Bang Joon-Seok is of course a former member of You&Me Blue, one of the very best modern rock bands in Korean music history, even though they only released two albums. After disbanding, its members followed different paths, but the influences of their music are still very much felt in the industry. One of the other members is Lee Seung-Yeol, whose work you can hear in the soundtracks of ...ing, The Coast Guard, Wonderful Days, and also had a very nice Music Video directed by Park Chan-Wook (available on the Oldboy Ultimate Edition). All the people seen in the street in this opening scene were actually part of the production team.
- He introduces the style used in the film, that bleach bypass so common in Korean Cinema nowadays, from Kwak Kyung-Taek's 친구 (Friend) to Ryu's own No Blood No Tears. He also used a lot the steadycam, one of his favourite.
- The first man Tae-Shik fights in the film is actually the boxing trainer of both Choi Min-Shik and Ryu Seung-Beom, Kim Ji-Hoon. The two took several months of training before going into the shooting, and it shows in the way they naturally react to their opponent's movement.
- Ryu liked the first scene with Sang-Hwan, because it exemplified even more the kind of stage of their lives the character are living in: a present day problem for Sang-Hwan, a problem in the past that still lingers in his mind for Tae-Shik. They shot the motorbike scenes during the Chuseok holidays in September, with half the staff, using 22 Frames per second. Ryu Seung-Beom commented in several interviews that living with his reggae hairstyle was just as hard as boxing training.
- Pokarekare Ana, the famous Maori folk song, is introduced. It was a love song at first, becoming popular in the Auckland area around the start of WW1, but was later changed into an action hymn telling of Paraire Tomoana's love for Kuini Raerena (Queenie Ryland) in 1912. Perhaps the connection with Korean culture is that, during the Korean War, the New Zealand Army often taught it to Korean children. The song became famous Internationally with Hayley Westenra's rendition. First verse goes: Pokarekare Ana, nga wai o Waiapu, Whiti atu koe hine, marino ana e (They are agitated, the waters of Waiapu, cross over girl, 'tis calm.)
- Ryu notes how he wanted to convey the economical situation, and the atmosphere of Sang-Hwan's living conditions, all in one frame. He thought they were able to do that effectively.
- Compared to his older films, where a lot of the dialogue was tongue in cheek, he paid a lot of attention to it here. The inspiration for the film came from two documentaries he watched on Korean TV. One was about Hareruya Akira, once a successful boxer, even ranking 17th in a Junior Lightweight Championships, now facing the consequences of the bubble economy on his own skin --playing a human sandbag on the streets of Shinjuku Square, a thousand yen per minute, so that he could pay off his 15 Million Yen debt and save his company. The difference between the two characters is that Hareruya actually never ducked the punches, he just took the punishment without moving a finger. Sang-Hwan's story would be that of K-1 fighter Seo-Cheol, a former National silver medalist who started his boxing life in a juvenile detention center.
- The scene where the old man (Kim Young-In) is assaulted by Sang-Hwan, is actually something that happened in his youth. He wanted to sort of recreate one of the parts of Die Bad, so they looked for a similar location. The fight scene with the long tracking shot highlighted Sang-Hwan's disregard for other people, the fact he didn't realize the gravity of his actions. The scene transition right after that, where Tae-Shik looks at the remains of his factory showed Choi Min-Shik's great ability in conveying that '40 something' look. That look that shows a hint of death, the kind of look people who go through those problems often have.
- His decision to cast Seo Hye-Rin as Tae-Shik's wife came after he watched her in an old SBS Drama from 1994 (옥이 이모 - Ok's Aunt, also starring Ju Hyeon and Ok So-Ri), where she did great. He thought she looked very sincere, and perfectly fit the details of the character. What happens with her and Tae-Shik in the house was actually Choi Min-Shik's idea. He thought it emphasized Tae-Shik's failure as a father and husband. Choi gave a lot of help in defining the character traits of a man suffering from middle age crisis. How he behaved differently toward different people. Like his first meeting with Won-Tae (Im Won-Hee). In the script it was just Won-Tae running the moment he sees Tae-Shik, screaming. But on location, they changed it.
- The first prison scene was shot at an actual prison. It even made the news. When scouting for locations, it gave them a bizarre feeling of being at a school, not a prison. That's why they thought it fit perfectly, being a juvenile detention center. The scene when Kim Soo-Hyun and Ryu Seung-Beom start fighting over food showed more of a 'reaction' style. All their hard training the months before actually helped make those reactions even more realistic. A lot of people thought the 'biting' scene was a reference to Mike Tyson (Seo-Cheol, the character Sang-Hwan is based upon, was often called the Korean Mike Tyson), but he rather thought of it as what kind of impact on people the prison setting could have had. When Sang-Hwan moves to solitary confinement, he took the idea of banging the head against the wall from his younger son. He always does that when he doesn't want to do something.
- The first meeting between Cheon Ho-Jin and Choi Min-Shik's character was actually one of the few fixed scene in the film, with a tripod. He really liked the sign the Art Direction team made for Tae-Shik. That 'human sandbag relieving your stress' quote. He followed noting how he wanted to convey that unique 'scent' the night can have.
- They changed a lot of things about Tae-Shik while doing rehearsals, especially because Choi is not an actor who likes to do things the predictable way. They weren't making a story about heroes, or solving problems. They just wanted to focus on something that would make waking up the next day a little less bitter. More than that unique 'film-like' style story, they wanted to show the honest feelings of people.
- When Sang-Hwan says 'I can't read that shit anyway,' a lot of people misinterpreted it as him being illiterate. All he was saying, really, is that he was that kind of 'bastard,' so warned them not to waste his time with that kind of stuff. His first boxing scene was there to convey that sense of not being able to run away anymore, more than any lack of technique or anything like that.
- The scene in the Attic with the Neon lights and the steam coming up. Ryu liked it because it reminded him of films like Scorsese's Mean Streets, or some of the best Hong Kong noir.
- When Tae-Shik looks at the kids playing around, Ryu wanted to show that even though he was not a good father, he still cared about small things like that, like tieing a kid's shoelaces. He wanted to shoot the scene where Won-Tae runs in the street just like Johnny Boy (Robert DeNiro) in Mean Streets. He also cast Kim Gi-Cheon after liking him in 킬리만자로 (Kilimanjaro), doing a similar role. He even wanted to use the same exact costumes, but it wasn't possible.
- One of the most interesting episodes from the shoot was the fight between Oh Dal-Soo and Choi Min-Shik. The medal was an afterthought at first, but after it fell by itself during the shoot, they thought about what kind of reaction the two would have, if that actually happened.
- Ryu thought a lot of Korean males could relate to the scene in the toilet, because it has a similar feel to living in the army, hiding to eat a chocopie. A lot of people were shocked at how Gi Ju-Bong left the film, but he wanted to evoke that kind of feeling you get when things like that happen. Those situations for which you have no time to prepare emotionally, and end up getting mad. Sang-Hwan would say in his head, why are Grandma and my brother here? And then connect the dots. That's why his reaction is even more striking. He really felt the actors' power in this scene, especially Na Moon-Hee's. He also pointed out how all those 'back shots' made the actors much more comfortable.
- The 'accident' inside the showers. He shows how Sang-Hwan was committed so much to his training that he didn't want to waste time, go out and fight, get reprimanded for it. So he just hurts himself, showing Kwon-Rok that he didn't want to play his games anymore. He also pointed out how the sound of Kim Soo-Hyun's punches in their first boxing match were heavier, to emphasize he was more powerful and experienced.
- The 'next day' subtitle, traditional film techniques like fade in/out were there because he wanted to avoid CG or flashy tricks. He wanted to shoot the film in a basic way, so that the feelings evoked would be the main focus.
- Ryu pointed out how the simple scene with Choi and the kid turned out so well. He mentions how great actors like Choi can take a basic input and work their magic from there, adding their own colour to the scene.
- He explained his use of 송골매's (Songgolmae, a famous group from the 80s) 빗물 in the cafeteria. It was a song he really liked when he was younger. He didn't particularly want to avoid more 'modern' music, but he thought that popular music from the 80s fit very well with a 40 something character.
- He noted how homeless people in Korean Cinema are often treated as 인간 쓰레기 (Human Trash), but they worked hard to avoid that. He thought the 'fantasy' sequence with the poster could fit with Tae-Shik's mental state at that particular moment.
- The scene in the hospital where Sang-Hwan meets his grandmother, you could hear a pin drop on the set, for it showed the kind of truth inside the actors, the emotional reactions they could make in that situation.
- Talking about the script, he noted how at first it was 50 Minutes of Sang-Hwan, followed by 50 Minutes of Tae-Shik, and then the finale. A lot of his director friends (Park Chan-Wook, Kim Jee-woon, Bong Joon-Ho, Im Pil-Sung), helped him get to the conclusion that to bring us closer to the characters, it was better shooting it the other way, with the two stories intertwined. In the scene where Won-Tae eats the nails, he noted how in Korean Cinema, gangsters are almost never portrayed in a realistic way, unlike Yakuza in Kitano Takeshi's films. He thought about how he could change that, and found this office in a container box. He also added that gangster fashion pattern closer to reality. He wanted to avoid easy stereotypes in dealing with the extremes of characters. Won-Tae might be a conman, but is he really a bad person, a good one? You can't really judge. There's a good and bad side to every person.
- When making Arahan, they shot a lot of 'training' montages, but he wanted it shortened here. He asked the CG team instead to create something that would evoke the passing of time. With the leftovers from those montages, they actually made a Music Video. They shot a lot of film for the final encounter between Kwon-Rok and Sang-Hwan, but it turned out the first long take had all they needed, so they cut all the rest.
- The boxing matches, and his use of steady cam, made him think it made for some powerful scenes. He thought Hollywood actors lke Robert DeNiro or Brad Pitt could never get this realistic because of all the insurance and legal loopholes. A lot of actors at the VIP screening liked the intensity of the real fights.
- The father/son dialogue in the public bath wanted to show Tae-Shik could have died in the ring, so he wanted to leave something in his son's memory. It really worked well, with that air of bizarre sadness.
- They worried a lot about the style to use for the boxing scenes. How to distance themselves from other boxing films like Raging Bull or Ali. Then when he read the script, Choi Min-Shik came up with an idea: doing it for real. Of course it would have been difficult, with a 20 something actor hitting his partner that was 20 years older. But they just did it, with Jung Doo-Hong coaching the two from ringside. He really liked the editing at the end, reminding him of when Seok-Hwan runs to find his brother at the end of Die Bad. He noted how they positioned the camera outside the ring for round 1, but then went inside for Round 2. He's never seen that in any other film before. He really liked the music at the end of 쓰리, 먼스 (...Extremes), which was made by Jang Young-Gyu and Kang Gi-Young's Peach as well, so he asked Bang Joon-Seok to give it a personal spin and use it in the film.
- Why was the atmosphere so quiet? He notes how in Korea, the popularity of boxing decreased tremendously in the 90s, after the success of the 80s. So matches in Korea are really quiet and lack atmosphere. It's even more apparent on TV. For Round 3, 4 and 5 he wanted to show that sense of waiting for the end, of time passing slowly, standing up getting more and more difficult. He didn't want to make a boxing film, but a film using boxing to communicate feelings. Of people using fists to live, their pain and sweat to survive being more important than who is the winner. That's what he was really proud about, showing that kind of realism that's so hard to find in other films. He mentioned how Hareruya Akira, after a long night getting beat up, always sang a song. He thought Pokarekare Ana was the perfect song for that kind of mental state. Director Bang thought adding kids to this version of the song, like in Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education, would have helped the film, so they changed it. The feeling he wanted to evoke at the end, with that song, was not of hitting to win, but staying up, surviving until the end, taking all the blows without falling. At the end of the match, he thought it was important to give a chance to these people to say I'm sorry. Life wouldn't change too much for them, but now they had the force to change things, now they were able to say something they never thought possible.
- In a beautiful finale to his commentary, Ryu dedicated the closing song (EoEoBu's rendition of the famous 행복의 나라로 - To The Land of Happiness) to all the staff and actors who worked so hard to make this film possible. That he didn't want to make a great masterpiece, but showing real feelings on screen. That he hopes to work with those people again.
00. 자존을 건 두남자의 대결 (The Existence of Two Men's Confrontation) [08:53]
Basically a review of the film by the great Korean critic Kim Young-Jin. He talks about this film being different from other boxing films, sharing some similarities with Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby. Not so much showing the professionalism of boxing, but the fences a lot of normal people find when making decisions that could change their lives. He talks about the misunderstanding about Ryu's body of work. That he started making the films he wanted to make, the films he wanted to see. That Die Bad wasn't really an action film as a lot of people saw it, that it was more about life on the street, showing the feelings of those people. Even watching No Blood No Tears, he thought that sentiment was even stronger. That his films always have two elements converging together: the action, and the reason why it happens, the mental state of the characters. He feels these two things have been brought to the highest level in Crying Fist, showing a kind of motivation and energy that is hard to find in Korean films. He thinks Ryu will continue to do well in the future.
01 거리의 영화 (Film of The Street)
- 사람냄새 나는 [주먹이 운다] 제작 일지 (A Crying Fist Smelling of People's Scent - Production Log) [16:30]
A quality making of documentary, showing the various phases of shooting, mixed with interviews with the actors and director Ryu, analyzing the various locations and what they wanted to get across in the particular scenes. The intro is quite fun, with a lot of stars wishing the best for the film, including singer Yoon Do-Hyun, directors Bong Joon-Ho, Park Chan-Wook and Jang Joon-Hwan, and actors Song Kang-Ho and Lee Young-Ae.
- 천안 교도소 (Prison in Cheonan) [06:40]
A short clip about the decision to shoot at a real prison, the problems and opportunities that arose shooting in a real place. Many people talk about the psychological state they were in while there, a lot stranger and harder to digest than they thought. Since they couldn't give much of an artistic touch to a place like that, there were some problems. But they received a lot of help from the people working there. Help that enhanced the realism of the scenes. Ryu talks about the fact that our image of life in the prison is so strong, given what we always see in TV Dramas or even Hollywood movies. But the prison is not too different from a school. What was difficult about the shoot was getting the right feeling and atmosphere, to convey Sang-Hwan's state of mind while in prison.
- 살아있는 연기, 열린 연출 (Lively Acting, Open Directing) [07:59]
Pretty self explanatory. This clip shows the input the actors offered to improve the characters. The first scene is the one where Tae-Shik meets Won-Tae for the first time. We see how it was just supposed to be Tae-Shik running after him in the storyboard, but Choi thought it would have been fun if Won-Tae pretended he was a colleague, so they changed it. Second scene is the confrontation between Yong-Dae and Tae-Shik. He was just supposed to stay still and duck the punches, but Choi thought that if he slapped him like that, he would show his renewed energy. Last scene was talked about in the commentary, about the Silver Medal. In the storyboards, Yong-Dae was supposed to grab the medal and say: "You're a medalist after all." But since it fell while shooting, they used that opportunity to change the scene. There is another added scene involving Im Won-Hee and Choi, but most of it was cut later anyway.
- 세컨들 (Seconds) [12:59]
A chance given to the supporting characters to talk about their experiences working on the film. Cheon Ho-Jin plays the man who gives hope to Tae-Shik. It was the first time he worked with Choi, but had a lot of fun working with him. Hwang Jae-Gon is the man who fights with Tae-Shik in the prison. Na Moon-Hee says she liked the script, and since Ryu was doing it, she didn't worry about anything at all. She played the role like she was living it for real. Gi Ju-Bong talks about the relationship with his son in the film, that kind of generational gap between the two. He really worked comfortably with Ryu. Hong Seok-Yeon plays the man who talks to Sang-Hwan's mother outside her house. Lee Joon-Goo talks about his character, liking his father but also being scared of him. This was his second film. Seo Hye-Rin says the role was a 180 degree change for her, but liked it nonetheless. Hwang Choon-Ha (Sang-Hwan 's brother), Jung Jung-Hoon (the mechanic), Byun Hee-Bong, Gu Bon-Eung (The man who helps Sang-Hwan in prison), Kim Young-In (the old man assaulted by Sang-Hwan), Shim Woo-Myung (Police Inspector), the announcers, just about everybody else gets their chance to say something. As always, a nice part of Korean DVDs, conveying even more the feeling of 'family' more than individuals working on their own things that is such an important part why Korean films are so good: teamwork between talented staff and cast members.
02. 거리의 삶 (Life on The Streets)
- 두 남자의 삶 (Two Men's Life) [09:19]
Producer Han Jae-Deok introduces how the idea of making the film came about. He watched the documentary about Hareruya Akira and liked it a lot, so he just accepted it right on the spot. Ryu liked the story, and thought they could make a great film out of it. Choi tals how much of a great person Hareruya was, a men's man, living the way it should be. At first, Ryu Seung-Beom felt a kind of burden about working again with his brother, because of Arahan and the really hard work he put into it. But then he watched the documentary, he was so touched by the story that he let go of the burden, and started becoming interested in the film. He asked to read the script, and then later accepted this challenge. At first, he thought Choi's idea to do boxing for real was just something he joked about, but in fact he trained even harder than he did.
The way the film was shot, doing Tae-Shik's scenes for a while then moving to Sang-Hwan, the two were able to rest in between. But while that was helpful, they also needed to train and control themselves, so that became another challenge.
Ryu talked about how he changed from his previous films. He now trusts his crew much more than used to, is less nervous and frantic in shooting action scenes. In this film, the action wasn't important, it's the psychological state of mind the characters were going through he wanted to capture.
- 액션, 날것 그대로 (Action, The Way It Came Out) [10:46]
Jung Doo-Hong talks about the concept of the action scenes: realistic and simple for the boxing scenes, and giving a 'live' feeling to the other small action scenes. He talks about the training the actors went through, like they were preparing for a real match. He complimented Choi and Ryu Seung-Beom for looking like real fighters in the ring. Ryu explained the strategy in shooting the different rounds, and the feeling he wanted to achieve. Jung thought that even if it was lacking a little on the technical side, the real fight came out really well, and it was realistic enough to be convincing, conveying that sense of sadness the characters were feeling.
- 거리의 미학 (Aesthetics of The Street) [08:40]
A featurette about the choice of locations, the kind of sets they built, and the intended feeling the design wanted to evoke. Ryu wanted to shoot a lot of scenes on location, to get that realistic 'street' feeling for the film. They talk about various locations, including the Attic, the Boxing Gym and the Ring. They then show designs of the sets they built (Sang-Hwan and Tae-Shik's rooms, the solitary confinement cell), and add pop up subtitles to explain how they did it.
- 진심을 담아낸 음악 (Music Conveying Sincerity) [10:03]
Music Director Bang Joon-Seok talks about the concept of the soundtrack. He wanted to emphasize that feeling of sincerity, something that would fit with the characters' personalities. He then went on to explain how they came up with the different themes. Amongst them, the remake of Han Dae-Soo's 행복의 나라로 by EoEoBu Project, the guitar solo (the resonator version) fitting perfectly with the characters, or how Ryu wanted a Western like feeling to express the wandering of Tae-Shik, in his theme.
03. 복서들 (Boxers)
태식 - 최민식 (Tae-Shik, Choi Min-Shik) [07:20]
Ryu Seung-Wan opens the clip describing Choi, in one word, an artist. A person able to make characters come alive. Choi doesn't feel the need to talk much about his character, since it's not your average drama. More than showing a kind of consistent personality, he showed that kind of humanity, how Tae-Shik changes according to different situations. That people who have sadness in their heart don't just show it 24 hours a day. They do not go out of their way to bring attention to their pain.
The boxing training was really hard. Not so much because he had to learn how to jab, throw uppercuts and the like. But rather because he had to convey that realistic aura of someone who has been a boxing champion, and who makes a living out of it daily. So that was the biggest concern. How to make that 'smell' of being a boxer come alive. Of course he got hurt, but if he stopped anytime that happened, what about all the people behind the camera working hard to help him? He also added how his injuries, like the one he got in the ribcage, actually helped him. When he went back to shoot, anytime Ryu Seung-Beom tried to hit him near the ribs, he had that natural reaction of guarding that part of his body, because he was hurt.
He talks about the challenge of being an actor. That if you survive at the end, then that's fine. His goal has never been to become a successful actor, but to carry those fundamental qualities an actor should have at heart. He's just an actor, trying to make a living, simple as that.
상환 - 류승범 (Sang-Hwan, Ryu Seung-Beom) [06:52]
Ryu Seung-Beom really felt the power of his character, at first. Even though it was summer, he was feeling like it was winter inside. Any kind of feeling or reaction thrown at him would get the opposite result inside him. While at first, reading the script, he felt a little detached from the character, talking with the director he was able to discover the sadness hidden behind all that rage, and relate to the character. Working side by side with his brother, he saw how much he changed. Die Bad was a labour of love for everybody, but he's finally past that phase, stripped himself of the burden of those works. He felt he changed a lot, from the way he deals with actors, to his mannerism on location.
Since this was a change of character for him, from a bright and quirky character to something darker, he talked a lot with the director, and it was a little hard at first finding the right rhythm. Instead of just acting out the new character, he tried to find first what made him like that, the many facets of his personality. He wanted to get closer to the character before he could play it effectively.
Acting has been a really important change in his life. The reality he was living in was so far from the dreams he had, he had a hard time finding the motivation to do something like studying, or similar things. But this opportunity came, he finally found something he could immerse himself into. That's why he enjoys so much what he's doing. As a full time actor now, there are moments when the responsibilities of his profession kind of put the fun of actually doing it in a new light. So that's why he's more concerned, and worries a lot more than in the past. But he hopes to continue doing this work, and have fun while doing it.
원태 - 임원희 (Won-Tae, Im Won-Hee) [05:01]
Im, a longtime regular of Ryu's fims, talked about the film with the director, his brother and Choi long before it went into production, so technically he was never really 'cast' in the film. Ryu comments how he wanted to make something similar to a villain for Im, after all those funny roles. Im, more than an evil character, saw Won-Tae as someone who was of no help to Tae-Shik. That's why the nail eating scene was so important, to show the kind of affection the two had for each other. He really felt confident about the scene where he got hit by Choi Min-Shik. How only doing it for real would have worked, and we get a closeup of how true that is, five finger marks on his face, et al. Finally, he draws parallels to his character, to those short periods of his life when living was really hard 'cause he had no money but, like in the film, he found something that could help him survive.
용대 - 오달수 (Yong-Dae, Oh Dal-Soo) [04:58]
Director Ryu was introduced to Oh by Choi Min-Shik. He saw in Oldboy, and knew he had that strange beauty to his acting. When he met him, he knew he was a good actor, but was surprised at the rehearsal. He was so funny, they had really good times working together. Oh talks about his character, saying that while you can consider it a villain, it's not the kind you want to instantly slap in the face. Working for the first time with Ryu was very fun. He thought he was a very bright and cheerful person, nice to work with. At first he thought the scene in the Sauna after the final match made his character look a little weak, but was later thankful to Ryu for adding it. Drawing parallels to his character, there was a time when, after an accident, he questioned what he could do in the future. The fact that people close to him helped in some way to make him decide about his career path makes him feel thankful.
교도주임 - 안길강 (Prison Ward, Ahn Gil-Gang) [05:05]
The first time Ryu and Ahn met was in Park Chan-Wook's 'Threesome.' Back then Ryu was the youngest of the assistants to the director, taking care of props. For Die Bad, he just signed the contract asking for close to nothing, and was proud to return for Dajjimawa Lee. There wasn't much boxing to do for him in the film, but he asked to get training anyway, since he liked sports so much. There was one scene where he played sparring partner to Sang-Hwan, but it was eventually cut.
In the future, there's a good chance he'll work again with Ryu. After graduating from college, he thought of starting his own business, but then gave a shot to acting. For a long time, he didn't make much money, just like every other theater actor except a selected, lucky few.
권록 - 김수현 (Kwon-Rok, Kim Soo-Hyun) [04:58]
Ryu first saw Kim in a short film in 96. He liked him there, so picked him for the first part of Die Bad. After that, Kim once went to Ryu's office to discuss about Arahan, and he brought up Crying Fist. There were two roles available for him: one of someone helping Sang-Hwan in prison, and one doing the opposite. He loved the idea of being a constant pain in the ass for the whole film, so he accepted. Although there were many scenes showing all the bad things Kwon-Rok does to Sang-hwan, he thought he didn't look bad enough.
Ryu commented how Kim has a very youthful look, but he's actually 36, so he had a hard time training. Undergoing intensive training for 5 months, losing 18 Kilos in the process, paying attention to his diet when he loved chocolate and bread. It was hell for him. The moment the shooting ended, he ate everything he wanted like a pig. While he learned boxing, shooting in a way that would look good on film (opposed to the real fight at the end) was the really hard part. His goal was always to become a good actor, but he thinks he still has a long way to reach that expectation.
04. 복싱과 나의 삼 (Boxing and My Laif*) [14:42]
- Boxing And My Laif
Beautiful, just beautiful. Basically an ode to boxing... or better to all the hard work and dedication that goes behind it. Choi Min-Shik opens the clip saying he likes the idea of boxing being a surrogate for life; something you can't run away from. That's also its unique beauty, the fact all you have is your two legs and your fists. Former WBC World Light Flyweight Champion Jang Jung-Goo talks about his debut in the 80s, while scraps of newspapers from back then are shown. He talks about how the fans' warmth was more important to him than money. The fact many people saw him as a national hero for what he did. He says all that hard work paid off, ultimately.
- Boxing in the 80s and today.
Jang talks about the situation back then, when there weren't many pro's. The referee in the film, a former trainer and boxer himself, Kim Chang-Taek, added that nowadays people aren't the kind of athletes you could find back then, when their only goal was becoming champion. Now there are many more factors involved. Jung Doo-Hong, who as we reported on ScreenAnarchy just started his boxing career, mentions how th popularity of Boxing in Korea went down tremendously compared to the 80s. There isn't much money to be made, and the training is as harsh as it comes, so many people don't even bother. Training all those months for a few hundred thousand Won might be OK if you do it as a hobby, but those people who do it full time have really a hard time. That's why Jung thinks he should work even harder.
All the actors who underwent boxing training give their thoughts on how that time affected them. Ryu said that while all sports are the same, requiring intensity, dedication and hard work, boxing is still unique. That feeling of letting go of the win if you don't work hard enough, the training being complete hell to people who aren't interested in sports. Kim Soo-Hyun, watching other boxing movies, thought it wasn't that hard. But to film those 3 minutes matches, you had to train for weeks, and shoot for hours. He never thought training would be so hard. That's Ahn Gil-Gang's same exact feeling. He likes all sports, but has never worked so hard for a film before.
- A Challenge For People
Hong Young-Soon, a new boxer, talks of what led him to enter this sport. His will to work hard, and become a champion in the future.
Then they show highlights of Jung Doo-Hong's boxing match! He talks about how he was getting bored of being a stuntman and action director, and was beginning to fall into patterns, mannerism of the profession. That's why he needed a new challenge. Ryu Seung-Wan thought he was just crazy, but looking at his confidence in approaching this new decision, he supported him. Jung was really scared at first, didn't know what to do, hoped everything would end quickly. He's never wanted to quit something so much.
- Boxing's raison d'etre
Jung once again praises the hard work and dedication of boxers. He's done all sort of sports before, but even doing one Round of this was the hardest thing he's ever done. That's why he respects them so much.
*It should be 삶, which means life. In the film Tae-Shik writes it 삼, a common mistake.
05. 신인왕전 (New King Challenge)
Quite an interesting featurette. Ryu introduces what we're about to see, a collection of multi-angle clips from the final match (you can skip the intro). They shot with many different cameras, and Ryu and the editor picked the best moments to make the final result. There were rumours about the reality of the fight, but as you can see, this was a real fight between Choi Min-Shik and Ryu Seung-Beom. They show the entire clips, all lasting 2 minutes, of the rounds the two fought. There's no sound retouching, so what you see is what (they got...). Some of this stuff is quite hard to watch. It's obvious they weren't trying to hurt each other, and some punches weren't thrown full power. But any of those punches could make an untrained man fall down, easily. The voice you hear at ringside is the Action Director himself, Jung Doo-Hong, giving instructions to the two.
Round 1 - Camera A
Takes the diagonal from the red corner, from slightly afar.
Round 1 - Camera B
This is the traditional 'TV broadcast' camera, taking a shot of the side of the ring from left to right. Sometimes zooms in.
Round 1 - Camera C
Outside the ring, but very close to the action.
Round 6 - Camera A
Above the ring, from medium distance.
Round 6 - Camera B
Takes the opposite corners (from blue and red), up on the ring outside the ropes. The hardest to watch.
Round Making - Camera B
Most of this was only used for the DVD. Very close to the action, right above the ring post.
06. 판정패 (Defeat) [18:06]
Director's Commentary ON/OFF
A longer version of Tae-Shik's preparations to start his working day. He wears the head protection, puts on the gloves, stretches and bows. He tests the megaphone, and then begins his introductory speech. This runs much longer than what we get in the film, with Tae-Shik explaining the rules (how long men and women can fight, how much it costs), and then cracks a joke. The scene moves to his first 'bout,' with a particularly quick customer. He even gets hit hard a few times. After it's over, he asks what the young guy does for a living, and comments his jab wasn't bad at all. He then asks for an applause for the kid's performance.
Ryu really felt Choi's acting energy shone in this part. While editing, they agonized over what to cut or not, and tried to keep the best parts. Since this was the prologue and they needed to get only the major points across, it was a little too long to show in its entirety, that's why they cut it.
The scene where Tae-Shik goes in his new attic. The part not in the final cut is of him entering the place, trying to find a spot to hang his medal on, and looking out of the window. Ryu thought they already established his condition with the state the place was on the outside, so there was no need to emphasize it even more with the inside.
This is a flashback cutting from the restaurant scene to Tae-Shik puking in the toilet at his Asian Games final. It shows why he wasn't able to win the Gold medal.
A longer, more elaborate version of a later scene with Tae-Shik on the streets. While he begins his usual speech, people from different stores around the area gather and start complaining: "How can we do business like that?" Sang-Cheol (Cheon Ho-Jin) stops them and calms them down. The scene continues with a chubby girl asking to fight, Tae-Shik looking idle. Then the pretty girl we see in the film asks him, and he says 'That'll be 10,000 Won.'
Ryu liked the scene, but because of the rhythm of the editing, decided to leave it out and focus only on Tae-Shik. He also tried to emphasize the prejudice toward beauty (or lack thereof) in the latter scenes.
A longer version of the walk from the solitary confinement cell to the training gym. Ryu wanted to show what happens in the daily prison life, but shortened the scene for time constraints.
Tae-Shik is working outside, with a crowd around him. Sang-Cheol looks from afar, a couple of customers recognize him. Deleted for time problems.
Tae-Shik calls his son, because he wants to hear his voice. Seo-Jin doesn't pick up the phone. So that moves Tae-Shik, the day after, to tie the kids' shoelaces on the streets and talk to them. Cut out to fit with the editing rhythm.
A longer version of the meeting Tae-Shik has at school. He continues with the 'be strong' theme, and while showing something to the kids, he hits one in the forehead by mistake. This emphasized even more why Seo-Jin was embarrassed of his father. The whole crew had a really fun time shooting the scene, but again, for time constraints, it was deleted.
Extended version of the prison meeting to decide on Sang-Hwan's future.
At the end of the fight with Oh Dal-Soo's character, the other gangsters pick him up while Tae-Shik runs away.
Sang-Hwan is sleeping next to the prison ward. He asks him if he can go out a little after the match, to see his father. The ward tells him to just sleep. Ryu liked the power of the scene, but decided to cut it off anyway.
Tae-Shik is in the sauna with Seo-Jin, and talks with him before they move to the bathtub. Ryu wanted to get the main feeling of the scene across quickly, so shortened it.
The longest scene that was cut off. While Tae-Shik puts the medal on the sleeping Seo-Jin, that opens a long flashback. It shows the family taking a portrait, with Tae-Shik always on the phone, and a very young Seo-Jin crying. Inside the house, while Tae-Shik's wife is peeling apples, he plays with the kid. Then suddenly Tae-Shik hugs his wife in a provocative way, while the kid is looking. The scene moves outside, with Seo-Jin grown up, the family washing the car and playing with water.
Ryu joked how one of Show East's people was bragging how his kid finally debuted in a film, yet it all was deleted. He only kept the final part, because he wanted to keep the theme of film, of not solving past problems (in this case, getting the family back together), but deviating from those conventions.
07. RYOO BROS. IN CANNES [07:07]
Very similar in tone to the Cannes clip of the Bittersweet Life DVD.
Ryu Seung-Beom opens saying that he loved the atmosphere at Cannes, more than the fact he was going to a Festival.
He really felt strongly about the film, not just because it was something he worked in. He really felt it was a film that could give hope to other people, and was thankful he could work in it, and that it existed at all.
Ryu Seung-Wan was so excited and curious about the audience's reaction, the thought of going to the toilet crossed his mind more than once. His brother commented he was excited at the preview of the film in Korea, but even more curious about the reaction it would elicit abroad. He's happy about the popularity Korean films have gained overseas.
Director Ryu introduces the film at the screening, saying he hoped to give hope to people living a difficult life. He also asked people to watch the film with open eyes, ears, and especially a warm heart. Seung-Beom is really honoured to see his films shown to the world, to see so many Korean films loved by different people in different countries.
- Theatrical Trailer [02:14]
이번이 마지막이다! (This is the last time!). Really gets that feeling of fighting to survive, to start again, in a great way. A few spoilers, maybe too many, but a really good trailer.
- Teaser Trailer [01:36]
Subtitled in English. It gives a different feeling, almost like it was a regular action film. Didn't like it too much, honestly.
- Music Video
박정현 (Pokarekare Ana) [02:18]
Park Jung-Hyun (also known as Lena Park), a really good R&B Singer, sings her version of Pokarekare Ana. Using different film techniques (b&w especially) shows important scenes from the film. Quite well made, and Park's great voice helps matters immensely.
- Music Video
Side-B (Just Do It) [04:05]
Although I suspect the marketing team imposed this choice on Bang and Ryu, I think they could have chosen a better Korean hip hop group. It's one of those groups that have a nice title song, but the rest of the album lacks so much in quality, it's a waste of money. Their song is exciting and fits well with the images, but think how much better using greats like Dynamic Duo or anyone from Movement Crew could have been. Decent.
I have a strange relationship with Ryu Seung-Wan's films. While I adore directors like Park Chan-Wook, Bong Joon-Ho, Jang Jin, Im Sang-Soo, Hong Sang-Soo and others, I always treat their works like a painting from a marvelously talented artist, I'm rarely able to distance the person from the film. I see those directors' personality through their films, kind of make an idea in my head (through interviews and public appearances) of what kind of person they might be, but beyond the appreciation for the film, I still sense a certain kind of distance, call it being 'star struck.' With Ryu (and Kim Jee-woon, to a lesser extent) , it's like my 형, my older friend down the street who always came to watch HK films with me, suddenly started making films... And they were great, just the kind of films we liked, with the same level of intensity, of playful humour, of referencing a myriad of things without letting that change the course of the film. In short, I find extra enjoyment every time I sit down to watch a Ryu Seung-Wan film, and he hasn't disappointed me once. When I read people criticize films like Oldboy or Memories of Murder, I laugh to myself, thinking: 'They just don't understand, don't bother." But I almost felt personally all the criticism Ryu had to suffer. I kept thinking WHY are they misunderstanding his work, why are they making easy assumptions about his style and his films, reverting to easy formulas of criticism as putrid as the 'cliches' they so adamantly condemn. If I ever decided to do something crazy and become a director, my model would be Ryu, for he made a career out of sheer passion for films, not a fancy certificate from a prestigious school that means absolutely nothing when you sit down and direct your films. That passion shines through his works, and has finally found a form of its own. Crying Fist might not be as shockingly good as Die Bad, as entertaining as Arahan or Dajjimawa Lee, as gritty and stylish as No Blood No Tears. But it's the perfect synthesis of all those things, and at the same time something different. It's the first time I can really say that 'older friend' has found his road, finally. Now if that maturation means he'll become tainted by the business machine, that I can't possibly know. But at least he got there, he survived through the difficult moments, and will probably have enough strength to accept more of that when it comes. He won his match in and outside the ring, and I'm sure the fist is not crying anymore...
enterOne is definitely back. When I heard a few years ago they went out of business I felt sad, they always released excellent DVDs. Then the news that they were coming back was revealed, under the management of Cinexus. I thought they had changed a lot of employees, but given the excellent quality of their last efforts, I think they got even better, if that's possible. The quality of the extras features on this and the Antarctic Journal DVD is simply exceptional. There's people who pay 30 bucks for Criterion DVDs, but here you're getting even better content for 2/3 of that price. I also like this pattern in the choice of extra feaures, and the packaging style. It makes collectors even happier. I think this is simply one of the best DVDs of the year.