Crying Fist

Crying Fist


Reviewed by: Iain Macleod

Fans of Oldboy will be curious to check out South Korea's first populist boxing movie. It demonstrates a very different approach to Oldboy, but will impress with its stylised direction, bloody violence and moments of quiet, social reflection.

Putting a different spin on the stereotype, Crying Fist gives us two fighters and two points of view, as they slug their way through a tournament, which will eventually bring them together, at which point the audience will be hard pressed to chose between them. It is this twist on the usual conventions that drives the film and does so effortlessly over two hours of screen time.

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The first character we meet is Gang Tae-shik (Oldboy himself, Choi Min-sik). Once a silver medallist in the Seoul Olympics, he has to resort to pimping himself as a punch bag with legs. If you're fed up with your boyfriend, boss or anything else, you can put on the gloves and try your best against Gang, as long as you have the money.

Yoo Sang-wan (Ryu Seung-beom) has landed himself in prison. Forced to use his skills of self-defence, with his teeth no less, he quickly finds himself in the boxing team.

Before long, Gang and Ryu enter a tournament, one seeking past glory, the other a future, and both desperate for the redemption which failure will ultimately steal from them.

Boxing fans will find a lot to admire here. The fights are second only to Raging Bull, sometimes even surpassing Scorsese's classic with their unchoreographed and realistic style. The camera does not pull away. With the spectators, we watch every blow land and the actors remain in character throughout, which must have put intolerable demands on them.

Only at the end does Crying Fist falter. While one conclusion gives us a winner, it immediately offers up another that sadly reminds me of the Jon Voight weepy, The Champ. Until those final minutes, Ryoo Seung-wan's film stands proud with Rocky, Raging Bull, Body & Soul and Champion.

Reviewed on: 09 Dec 2005
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A South Korean boxing movie that out fights Raging Bull.
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Director: Ryoo Seung-wan

Writer: Ryoo Seung-wan

Starring: Choi Min-sik, Ryu Seung-beom, Lim Won-hie, Jeon Ho-jin

Year: 2005

Runtime: 123 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: South Korea


London Korean 2011

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