Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Crying Fist (2005)

Crying Fist (Review)
Ryoo Seung-wan/Choi Min-sik, Ryoo Seung-bum/2005
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...becomes much more than a typical sports film..."

Once silver medalist boxer Tae-shik (Choi Min-sik) and delinquent thug Sang-hwan (Ryoo Seung-bum) look towards boxing to repair their broken lives...

Crying Fist tells two stories at once: the story of Tae-shik and the story of Sang-hwan. So, it starts with Tae-shik's life on the streets as a human punching bag -- he'll take the beating for some petty cash. Afterward, it'll cut to Sang-hwan, who lives a life of crime and would rather steal for his cash. Fortunately, the storytelling is easy to follow and makes the film feel distinct. I also really like how the leads never cross paths -- their stories don't interlink until the end, which makes the film feel fair and unpredictable -- it doesn't force you to root for someone thanks to the balance it achieves. On that note, the final bout was edge-of-your-seat exciting, and the ending is a powerhouse of genuine emotion; thanks to the aforementioned storytelling, the ending feels so much more effective.

Crying Fist may sound like a procedural sports film, but it really isn't. Crying Fist focuses much more on the everyday problems of normal people. Of course, not all of us have won a silver medal and not all of us are thugs, but most of us have experienced hardships in our lives, and that's what it's all about. (I wonder if there's a silver medalist or thug reading this right now?) Thanks to this approach, the emotion is amplified tenfold -- it becomes more than a "I have to fight to win this money" film. Furthermore, the parallel storytelling keeps the audience engaged and interested; it's basically like watching two films that blend into one for the ending. Those looking for boxing will be pleased by the authentic and exciting fighting, although it is a bit sparse. And, of course, those looking for inspiration will enjoy the obligatory training montage.

Choi Min-sik is outstanding, as usual. Ryoo Seung-bum matches Min-sik's energy with an equally impressive and versatile performance. The fight choreography is great, as previously mentioned. The music is unique for the genre -- instead of a triumphant, epic "Rocky" soundtrack, Crying Fist opts for a more somber and emotional score. The cinematography is also great. However, I wish there was a print with better picture quality as the film really looks older than it is on both Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant; I don't need HD, but at least standard DVD quality. The English subtitles have a several spelling and grammatical errors; however, it does not affect the story. Ryoo Seung-wan, older brother of Seung-bum, directs this film with a unique and ambitious vision; this becomes much more than a typical sports film thanks to Seung-wan.

Overall, Crying Fist is a superb sports film. It delves deep into the lives of two relatable characters, and creates a climax that much more than a physical battle -- a film that balanced the literal and figurative battle. Even if you're burnt out on sports film, Crying Fist will feels as fresh as ever.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood. Brief nudity. (the buttocks of men showering or bathing in two or three scenes.)

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