Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Unbowed (2011)

Unbowed (Review)
Chung Ji-young/Ahn Sung-ki/2011
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...one of the most thrilling and engaging courtroom dramas I've seen."

Kim Kyung-ho (Ahn Sung-ki), a law-abiding former math professor, hires Park Jun (Park Won-sang), an alcoholic attorney, to aid him against the broken criminal justice system.

Unbowed is a courtroom drama based on a true story with obvious changes for cinematic reasons. Kyung-ho is a former math professor who was wrongfully dismissed for questioning a math question in an entrance exam. After filing a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal and losing, Kyung-ho is accused of attacking the judge with a crossbow. Kyung-ho upholds his innocence and hires Jun to assist him and to work as a buffer between Kyung-ho and the bench. The rest of the film is basically the trial, which is filled with incredibly tense encounters. The ending of the film feels abrupt and even out of place due to the music, but it at least lets us know the events which followed; the ending is really the only part of the story that disappoints, though.

Unbowed works excellently as a courtroom drama. The exchanges between Kyung-ho and Jun against the bench and prosecution are tense and very consistent; so tense and consistent, Unbowed feels like a pure-blooded thriller. In fact, because of these great elements, the film moves at a ferocious pace. I love these exchanges as they're filled with tension, as well as interesting information regarding law. Really, the film boils down to the small man fighting a tyrannical law system -- or, as the film makes it, David vs. Goliath. There are also quite a few hilarious moments thay blend very well with the film.

Ahn Sung-ki plays his role very well, really building a deep character; self-righteous, law-abiding, conservative, humorous, outspoken... he's so much. Park Won-sang also matches Ahn Sung-ki with a versatile performance; he can be an arrogant drunk one moment (albeit a bit cliché), humorous at another, or even a caring lawyer willing to risk it all. The music matches the film well as it plays lightly in the background. The film is also shot well with engaging camerawork. Chung Ji-young's writing and direction are also very consistent and well done -- the ending was a bit off, though.

Overall, Unbowed is one of the most thrilling and engaging courtroom dramas I've seen. It features an informative and entertaining story, incredible performances, and other high-quality technical aspects. The ending is the only part that doesn't sit well with the me, though.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some violence, some brief nudity, and implied sex.

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