The Art of Fighting

Okay, so this wraps up my Jae Hee addiction--but only because this is the last movie of his I have access to. I need his two new movies to come out ASAP, or I may start suffering from withdrawal! :(

Luckily, I’ve always liked these kinds of movies: seeing the underdog overcoming the odds; watching as they learn to stand up for themselves, and become stronger. It makes it a lot more fun cheering for them, since you know that in the end they’re going to succeed. After all, in this kind of movie, a successful fight at the end is a given—so it’s the underdog’s journey and how they improve that keeps you watching. I’m always excited to see that pivotal moment—when they just snap, and finally fight back.

In this one… it took a lot longer than expected.

I really liked the main character, Byung-Tae, but I found myself growing frustrated with the slow progress of his training. I just wanted him to get tough, and start kicking butt already! Of course, he eventually does, but it isn’t until the very end of the movie. So for almost an hour, we’re treated to a constant flow of scenes, in which the main character is either hiding or getting his butt kicked repeatedly.

But then suddenly it all just clicks.

Byung-Tae manages to become both scary and cool the moment he starts fighting back—and you can tell the exact moment he changes. The way his expression suddenly becomes resolved; the new confidence in his step. And yet the character isn’t lost in the shuffle. When he actually does start to fight for real, you can still see his faulty movements; the way he pulls back ever-so-slightly when he kicks his opponent after he’s already down; the way he recoils and stumbles around after throwing the chair through the window; the angry, animalistic way he attacks the boy moments later in the elevator with the can. It’s like he’s snapped, and the more he fights, the more confident he grows… the fear is completely gone, and he no longer holds back.

It’s disturbing, and not pleasant to watch. That is the art of fighting. It isn’t always pretty, and it isn’t always fair.

And through all of this, Jae Hee still manages to keep Byung-Tae in-character, while simultaneously making it seem like we’re watching a completely different person in action. And I’ve seen Jae Hee fight before… it’s completely different in this movie. It’s more sloppy, confused, desperate, and very very realistic.

I love how the final confrontation takes place in their classroom… in front of all the people he was constantly humiliated in front of. It made his victory all the sweeter. And that last punch… Whoa!

Another thing I liked was that it didn’t end the moment he kicked his tormentors butts. We actually got to see the aftermath, and their retaliation. Usually, in these kinds of movies, we get to see the final victorious battle, and that’s it. The fact that they went beyond that moment was really cool… even if, again, the result wasn’t pretty.

To be honest, it was a very hard movie for me to watch. I was cringing and covering my eyes through a lot of it… and it was a lot darker, and more depressing that I thought it was going to be. I was glad that they threw in that small twist at the end though… the tone suggested it would end much worse than it did. It was a good movie, but it’s not one I’d care to revisit. Once is enough, thank you very much. If Jae Hee hadn’t been in it, I think I would have been more indifferent in the end… but it was really good for the kind of movie it was.

My Rating:

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