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December 29, 2006

Running Wild

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Ya-soo
Kim Sung-su - 2006
J-Bics Region 3 DVD

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Running Wild is more proof that some of the most stylish action films are currently made in Korea. The narrative is a familiar story of a well-intentioned prosecutor and a volatile cop joining forces to bring down the mob. The film is made with such visual flair that whatever lack of originality is in the story is compensated for brisk pacing that barely relaxes in the two hour running time. The Korean title translates as "Beautiful Beast", which is more evocative a reference to the angry cop who propels the narrative.

The film dives into the action with a chase scene, the pursuer on a motorcycle, the pursued in a car, going the wrong way on a busy one-way street. The film alternates between the cop, Jang, the prosecutor, Oh, and a mob boss, Yoo. The concept of family is explored - one scene shows Yoo having dinner with his wife and children, cut with a scene of Yoo with his crime family. Jang's family is fractured by a younger brother involved with the mob and their mother hospitalized in critical condition. Oh is told by his wife she wants a divorce because Oh is married to his job. The characters on both sides of the law are undone by their particular codes of honor. With corruption in the upper spheres of government, the line between cop and criminal is eliminated.

The mob boss, Yoo, is hides his criminal activity under the most obvious displays of respectablilty, declaring his new found faith in Christianity on television, and getting elected to a government position. As long as the status quo is not challenged, perception is reality. Most of Running Wild was filmed using a blue filter which emphasises the pessimism of the film. Using contemporary film-making techniques and classic story elements, Running Wild can be seen as another example of a young Korean filmmaker remaking film noir. This is the debut directorial effort of Kim Sung-su, not to be confused with the same named director of Musa the Warrior. If there is a flaw to this film, it is that in making a film critical about appearance versus reality, Kim has made a film where more often than not, style trumps substance.

Posted by peter at December 29, 2006 12:11 AM