Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Punch (2011)

Punch (Review)
Lee Han/Yoo Ah-in/2011
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...Punch packs a very effective punch."

Troublesome student Do Wan-deuk (Yoo Ah-in) forms a relationship with his unconventional homeroom teacher Lee Dong-ju (Kim Yoon-seok).

Punch is a coming-of-age drama that mainly follows Wan-deuk and Dong-ju. Wan-deuk is a poverty-stricken, troubled student whose father is hunchbacked. Dong-ju is a harsh and unconventional teacher who just so happens to live next door to Wan-deuk. As their relationship forms, Wan-deuk grows to understand more. Really, he simply grows. He'll find some solace in kickboxing, develop a relationship with his love interest, meet his estranged mother and so on. The film leads to a positive and fulfilling ending.

I liked Punch. It's a great coming-of-age drama. As a coming-of-age film, it doesn't necessarily break new ground. And it doesn't have to. Punch is a very effective film, and that's really what matters. As a drama, the film is a very effective tale of people. It uses its themes of family and culture very well to tell its story. It uses these themes to tell a great coming-of-age story, and also subtly deliver a message about said people. It has a great blend of humor, too. Lee Dong-ju, in particular, is hilarious. Some of its humor doesn't really land, but it's a welcomed addition. All-in-all, Punch is a wonderful blend of drama and humor -- a very balanced and versatile film, which helps the pacing and runtime.

Yoo Ah-in is great as the lead, but Kim Yoon-seok steals the show. Kim Yoon-seok, who is magnificent in films like Hwayi: A Monster Boy, is very funny and charismatic in this film. The film is shot well, I have no complaints for the cinematography. The music blends well with the film, too. The English subtitles on the Netflix Instant stream (which may be expired by the time this review goes up), are good, but there are a few mistranslations. The film looks superb in High Definition. Director Lee Han delivers a very consistent and balanced coming-of-age film; it treads familiar territory and some of its subplots are underutilized, but Punch delivers a refreshing blend of drama and humor.

Overall, Punch is a fantastic film. It's very entertaining thanks to the effective drama and humor, but it's also very meaningful. And, it doesn't preach. It handles its message with respectful subtly. There is some room for improvement, but Punch packs a very effective punch. (you have to end a review with cheesy wordplay, sorry.)

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some brief violence and blood.

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