The Restless and Open City, Reviews

The Restless (Joong-cheon)

This Korean movie has some very stunning, beautiful scenes and great fighting. The high wire flying, though, doesn’t always work and was too much. Our hero, Yi-gwak, starts off looking a bit like Kibakichi with his tattered clothing and basket hat. He is down and out having lost his lover when she is accused of calling ghosts and executed. As she goes to her death, they vow to never forget their love for each other.

Yi-gwak is the real connection to the ghost world. In his glory days, he belonged to the Chuh-yong-dae, an elite force that fought evil demons. When the group is destroyed he is the lone survivor. He had refused to go on the mission, saying the timing was not good in disagreement with the leader.

So there you have it. Our down and out hero stumbles into Mid Heaven, a place where people go to wait 49 days before reincarnation. And who does he see there, but his old flame, who is now chuneen. Apparently she is a mid level deity who has no memory of her former life, including him. Well to me, that would be a deal breaker, but Yi-gwak persists with winsome looks and corny theme song, to try and jar her memory.

Meanwhile, his old boss, and some members of his former squad are trying to open the gate between the worlds of the the living and the dead. One of the members was jealous of him in their former life because he always felt he should have been promoted first, another was in love with Yi-gwak, and the brothers had idolized him, but of course are loyal to their chief. Yi-gwaks old girlfriend, has the key to the gate.

It seems all this drama would make for a great movie, and while there were moments of great beauty and action, it was all and all, trite. I will rate this one 2/5 acorns, no clives. I love the fantasy, the costumes and the fight scenes. The romance was corny, but the cheese factor was not very high.

Open City, (Mubangbi-dosi) stars Myeong-min Kim as Jo Dae-yeong, a detective, selected to be part of a force formed to target pickpockets. A new group of pickpockets is forming under the leadership of a woman, Baek Jang-mi, who flirts with our hero. She also tries to recruit his mom right out of prison, to be her “machine”. He has issues with mom, who was taken away to prison when he was a little squirt and we get glimpses of his sad face as she is being escorted away from the tenement they live in. He lives with his sister who is the only person he cares about. He can’t forgive mom. Mom has diabetes on top of that and has a hypoglycemic episode while living as a street person. She finallys succumbs to Jang-mi’s offer and takes money from her to start a noodle shop.

I still wonder why Korean policemen are often portrayed beating the crap out of people they arrest. I hope it is because it is felt that makes a more interesting movie. There are very few guns used in this movie. Almost everyone uses a knife or some other sharp, pointy object. I suspect it’s because Korea has more strict gun laws then the USA.

I will rate this one 2/5 acorns. There be blood as there be knives and gangsters who like to remove fingers.

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