Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crying Fist

Lately, I've been watching way too many brainless action movies or over-the-top suspense flicks with almost no anime or non-Asian-related films to balance things out. Crying Fist was one of those movie I watched during my most recent movie binge, but this film was far from brainless or over-the-top. Yeah, it's a Korean flick, but I think that if you liked The Wrestler or other fairly depressing sports dramas like that then this film might just be up your alley. 

There are a metric shit-ton of boxing films out there, but Crying Fist is probably the first one I've ever seen where I found it very tough to root for one particular person. There's no Rocky here. In this film we follow two different protagonists (who don't even cross paths until the end) as they hit rock bottom in life and try to dig themselves out using boxing. 

In one corner we have Kang Tae-shik (Choi Min-sik), a forty-something former silver medalist who has turned to hustling people on the street in order to payoff his creditors. Tae-shik carries a sign with him, advertising that for a fee anyone is welcome to punch the shit out of him using boxing gloves. Of course, he tries not to advertise that he is probably just a punch or two away from not being able to remember his own name. 

In the other corner we have Yu Sang-hwan (Ryoo Seung-bum), a young man who winds up in prison after trying vainly to rob an elderly man in order to pay off a debt. In prison he is recommended to the boxing ring as a way to purge his anger, but he doesn't quite have the skill compete at a competent level. Yet.

These two men, neither of whom could be considered very likeable, decide to risk it all on a amatuer title match. They choose to fight for what little remaining dignity they have and end up confronting themselves as much as they do each other. 

This wasn't an easy movie to watch. 

Kang Tae-shik's visit to his son's school was definitely tough for me to watch. That might be one of the lesser moments from the movie (I mean, there are plenty of tough things happening in this movie so narrowing it down to a few highlight moments isn't easy), but it had a big impact on me. Obviously, Kang Tae-shik spends his days on the streets, but when he is given the chance to speak at his son's school he jumps at it. Of course, he would. I was hoping this would help give the man some pride and dignity; you know, something he can say he did right before he goes back to the streets. Unfortunately, Kang Tae-shik is unable to even read his own written speech thanks to too many blows to the head and he is forced to make something up on the fly. The result is rather embarrassing for both himself and his son. That was agony to watch. It was too embarrassing to even be funny. 

Choi Min-sik, like usual, is amazing to watch. It's especially nice to see him not dismember or kill anyone for once. However, the true star of the movie could very well be the younger Ryoo Seung-bum. Either way, both of their stories are fascinating. 

This movie is one of the ultimate "feel bad" movies out there and it is as far from those "rah-rah" sports movies as you can get. I think it's much more rewarding, though. The boxing here, while certainly part of the story, isn't the main story. Who wins the match almost doesn't seem important in the aftermath. All that matters is whether or not they can find a way to turns their lives around... and all I can say after having seen it is that I hope so. Sure, they are fictional characters, but there are people like that the entire world over and they can't all be Rocky Balboa. Maybe they don't deserve to win because of the things they've done, but you want them to win. 

Not just the match, but in life, too. 

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