Kick The Moon

Kick The Moon


Reviewed by: Ben Sillis

It all started so well. Kids, doing karaoake. There's a pimply, geeky boy - centre parting, naturally - embarrassing himself on stage to whatever the South Korean equivalent of J-Pop is. K-Pop? I'm not sure, but that'd certainly make more sense than the fight sequence it segues in to, a pitched battle in the street between high school jocks and a large group of transvestites wielding steel pipes. I know. I’ve watched the whole film, and I still can’t account for it.

This, apparently, is a seminal moment in the life of high schoolers in the town of Gyeongju, where Kick The Moon is set. So much so that when we flash forward a decade, it's become apocryphal among schoolboys who hope to achieve the same notoriety before graduation.

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By pure coincidence, I've actually been to Gyeongju. It's quite a pretty place really, lots of blossoming trees and absolutely no heavily-armed drag prom queens. Or gangsters. But they turn up, too, hoping to turn over the town for no clear reason (Maybe there’s a thriving transvestite red light district now to pimp), promising a Mrs Merton/Mafia tearup. But here's the problem: that never happens.

Instead, Kick The Moon eventually devolves in to a love triangle/odd couple scenario which has little to do with organised crime or cross-dressing, and should not be acceptable in a film which doesn't feature Matthew McConaughey. That dorky kid at the beginning, Choi Ki-woong, has returned home with his hair gelled a different way and head of the mob, while the cool kid leading the charge has become a respectable teacher. I say respectable, I mean the PE teacher type never seen out of a shell suit, and he's quite liberal with the back of his hand on his pupils.

As you can probably guess, an uneasy friendship flares up between the pair, until a feisty (Read: alcoholic) woman gets in the way, leading the two to fight over her, with the "inspired" comic twist that one is a nerd-turned-badass, while the other is a rebel-turned-teach. Meanwhile, to beef up the running time, a strange story about high school teens trying to join the triad by acing their exams is shoved in. It's entirely unrelated.

Am I making a film about street fights between gangsters and ambiguously gendered teens sound boring? It's only because it is, and unnecessarily so. There's plenty of chopsocky, for sure, but it's all with the safety catch on. Everyone is armed to the teeth but no one ever gets killed, leading to the same sort of dissatisfaction as turning on infinite lives in an arcade shooter.

That menage a trois is never resolved either, and there's no closure for the kids with their hearts set on becoming gangsters. Or the drunk cop who walks around dressed as a fisherman, hurling his badge at students, gangsters, waiters and just about anyone. There are so many weak plot strands tied together that they fray and snap long before the overlong finale, which is about 15 minutes of people kicking each other and not much else.

I’m all for nonsense committed to celluloid (It’s why Crank 2 is my favourite film of the year so far). Coherence isn’t important but if you’re going to go off the rails, at least make the ride a bit bumpy – and short. Kick The Moon is overlong, goes nowhere and breaks no bones with its wooden, if random, fight scenes.

Reviewed on: 08 Jun 2009
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Kick The Moon packshot
Former classmates who've had a change of fortune become love rivals.
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Director: Kim Sang-Jin

Writer: Kang Woo-Suk

Starring: Lee Sung-jae, Cha Seung-won, Kim Hye-su, Lee Jong-su, Kim Yeong-jun, Lee Han-garl

Year: 2001

Runtime: 118 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: South Korea


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