Friday, April 15, 2016

Review: The Show Must Go On (2007)

The Show Must Go On (Review)
Han Jae-rim/Song Kang-ho/2007
Where to Watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"...the character-driven crime drama is dappled with some much-appreciated humor."

In-gu (Song Kang-ho) is a gangster with dreams of living peacefully with his family in a nice home. To his utter dismay, he finds escaping the gangster life is more difficult than he thought...

The Show Must Go On is a basic crime drama with a pinch of humor. The film is essentially a character study of In-gu. The story follows In-gu as he tries to break his criminal ties and live a legitimate life. He has a misbehaved daughter and a disappointed wife, both of which he tries to please. Unfortunately, he finds himself with no luck. His family issues begin to take a toll on his work, distorting his concentration and whatnot, and his boss' younger brother, Chairman Noh (Choi Il-hwa), actively plots against him over territory issues. The film leads to a poignant yet moderately humorous ending. I did feel the events leading up to said ending were a bit dragged out, though.

The Show Must Go On is an effective crime drama. The film takes its time to develop In-gu's character, meticulously crafting every little detail. In turn, you get a character you actually care about – a character you can root for, despite his criminal activity. This is important considering the entire film revolves around In-gu. There are other characters, sure, but most only serve to build In-gu. Of course, building such a character requires a lot of time. Occasionally, said time is filled with dragged out scenes. That's one of the issues with the film. It has some bloating and pacing problems. It's still very effective, but it could have been more efficient. It's also not the most original film I've seen. I don't need a film brimming with creativity, but this one doesn't do much to try to set itself apart from the rest of the group.

Much like how the narrative is powered by the main character, the cast is fueled by the lead actor. Song Kang-ho is superb in this film. He's very natural in this performance, coming across as human. It's something that I've always liked from Song. Choi Il-hwa and Oh Dal-su, who is a very prolific side character, are also great. The film looks and sounds good. I have to take some time to bash the translation, though. The Amazon Instant version of this film is often missing lines of dialogue. Fortunately, you can usually make-out what was being said from the context, but it can be annoying. I believe this problem was also prevalent when I watched this film on Netflix Instant years ago. The film is written and directed by Han Jae-rim. He's created a very effective crime film with a safe structure.

Overall, The Show Must Go On is a very good film. If you like crime films, I think you'll like this one. It's not brimming with action, but it has its fair share of brawls. On top of that, the character-driven crime drama is dappled with some much-appreciated humor. It may not be perfect, but most of the issues I found in this film were nitpicks. I would, however, recommend finding a better version than the one available on Amazon Instant.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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