REVIEW: Fabricated City (2017)

fabricatedcity

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2017, CJ Entertainment/TPS Films Korea

Director:
Park Kwang-Hyun
Producers:
Kim Hyun-Chul
Jang Yeong-Hwan
Writer:
Park Kwang-Hyun
Cinematography:
Nam Dong-Geun
Editing:
Kim Jin-Oh

Cast:
Ji Chang-Wook (Kwon Yu, “Captain”)
Shim Eun-Kyung (Yeon Yeo-Wool, “Mr. Hairy”)
Ahn Jae-Hong (DEMOlition)
Oh Jung-Se (Attorney Min)
Kim Sang-Ho (Ma Sang-Duk)
Kim Ki-Cheol (Elderly Man)
Kim Min-Kyo (Yong_Garu)

The worlds of gaming and real life crimes are meshed quite well in this fast-paced action thriller from director Park Kwang-Hyun.

Kwon Yu is a former taekwondo champion who has given up the sport and is now a professional gamer. He is the leader of an online team known as Resurrection, though he has never met his cohorts. One night, Kwon receives a phone call to return a missing phone to a Ha Su-Ji. He is paid 300 dollars after returning the phone and returns home. The next day, Kwon finds himself arrested for the rape and murder of Ms. Ha, who was underage. Despite efforts from his mother and local attorney Min to prove his innocence, Kwon is sentenced to life without parole.

During his time in prison, Kwon finds himself at the constant end of thrashings courtesy of local gangster Ma Sang-Duk. After a visit from his mother, Kwon soon learns that in order to survive, he must endure everything. As Ma and his boys constantly beat him, they slowly notice that Kwon has become tougher. When one day, Kwon finally stands up to himself, an attempt at retaliation causes Ma and Kwon to go to the hospital. En route, Kwon escapes from the van and when a massive manhunt begins for him, Kwon learns the only ones he can trust to clear his name are the members of his online team. Finally meeting face to face, the team hatches a plan to help Kwon and along the way, discover something extremely sinister.

From Welcome to Dongmakgol director Park Kwang-Hyun comes this very exciting thriller that meshes gaming and reality and while the plot may seem like the lines that blue between fantasy and reality, this film will bring other films to mind when it comes to plot points and at times, its action sequences.

The film’s driving force is truly its lead character of Kwon Yu, excellently played by Ji Chang-Wook. With the opening sequence being a realistic vision of a video game scenario that would look brilliant for a commercial, the film is ultimately a realistic look at an unemployed man who finds gaming as his escape from the harsh realities of life. While he is well-received by his online peers, his mother only wants him to do his best and wishes he would return to taking taekwondo, with its revelation shown at first by a photo of him winning a championship. It is when he is framed for rape and murder that he learns he can’t just let things go. Taking a page from another Korean action film, The Divine Move, Kwon gets tougher through the constant beatings he receives in prison, making him endurable and even finding himself an unexpected ally while in prison.

The film then delves into The Fugitive territory with the start of the third act, which makes up the final half of the film. The first two acts, meeting Kwon Yu and his prison time, make up the first half of the film. It is when he escapes that he soon vows to clear his name especially for his mother, who is revealed to have died while he was in prison. His team consists of the seriously minded hacker Mr. Hairy, who is actually a female well played by Shim Eun-Kyung of Train to Busan fame; DEMOlition, a more likable movie effects wizard played by Ahn Jae-Hong, who provides some of the film’s comic relief; Yong_Garu, a skilled hacker played by Kim Min-Kyo; and an elderly man whose drone skills come in handy played by Kim Ki-Cheol.

The action scenes are quite interesting as it helps Kwon become a better and more confident hero when it looks like he relies on his lost taekwondo skills in a very intricate scene against goons. Now, in this particular scene, to show that Kwon attacks in the dark, the viewer sees a neon light effect, perhaps to emulate night vision, to see Kwon using his skills to good effect. This is followed by a car chase scene that could be seen in an entry of the Fast and Furious series and in one sense, DEMOlition even goes as far as attempt to emulate a piece of The Dark Knight as he even references the film. When the big reveal comes as to who is responsible, it may seem predictable in a way. However, it is the methods used that are just mindblowing and the retaliation from Kwon and team is truly staggering in a good way.

Fabricated City is truly a top grade Korean action film that blends the worlds of gaming into a real crime situation with Ji Chang-Wook at the top of his gang as the framed hero seeking revenge. The action sequences are a delight, taking a page from other films, and the big reveal is a bit on the predictable side yet shocking at the same time.

WFG RATING: A+

CJ Entertainment is currently screening this film at CGV Los Angeles and Buena Park. The film will get a limited nationwide release in select cities in the United States and Canada on February 24.

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