Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
Original Title: Jumeogi unda
South Korea, 2005. Sio Film and Bravo Entertainment. Screenplay by Cheol-Hong Jeon, Seung-wan Ryoo. Produced by Jae-Duk Han, Dong-Joo Kim. Music by Jun-seok Bang. Costume Design by Seo-jin Lee. Film Editing by Na-young Nam.
Melodramatic boxing movie cliches are given the twist of a double perspective in this enjoyable if not particularly innovative film. Min-sik Choi plays an over-the-hill boxer who won Silver at the Asian Games in his youth but is now up to his ears in debt to creditors, his career non-existent and his marriage in a very precarious position. He hits the streets and lets strangers punch him for cash, busking his wares in the town square telling everyone that he will allow them to express their frustrations with life on his battered body. Meanwhile, Seung-bum Ryoo is a young man who has gotten himself into very bad trouble and has been sent to jail; while there, learns to overcome his rage by channeling it into boxing, working with the prison’s trainer and facing down his cellmate foes in the ring. Both of these plots sound like every boxing movie you’ve ever seen, but flicking back and forth between them is actually diverting thanks to the excellent performances. Then we get to the ending and we realize we can’t pick sides: both main characters enter a Super Light Weight championship competition that will mean a turning point for both of their lives, and our having gotten to feel such deep sympathy for them means we can’t be sure who to root for. Everything leading up to this conclusion is straight out of the underdog-redemption playbook, but no matter how much you’re bothered by the familiarity there is no denying that the conclusion has a powerful effect.