범죄도시

so we just watched 범죄도시, which somehow has the english title, “the outlaws,” although 범죄도시 literally means “crime city,” so.

3.jpgi don’t know about you, but every time i hear the word “outlaws,” i think about robin hood, specifically the disney cartoon version of robin hood where he is portrayed as a literal fox.  so personally, i am not satisfied with calling the movie “the outlaws,” when “city of crime” probably would have been a more accurate description. but i’m not in the movie marketing business so what do i know.

anyway.  범죄도시 is based on a real incident that happened in 2007, and i’m sure some of it was dramatized for the film.  but the major plot points are accurate, according to my husband and a quick naver search.

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the major bad guy has a shockingly thick mane of hair and you can be sure that he takes it down from time to time to rearrange when he’s been fighting or running around and has too many wisps falling into his face.  as a person with long hair, i felt that it made his character more relatable, which i appreciated.

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the protagonist is played by 마동석 or “don lee” as he is sometimes called, since he is actually an american (!!) (i was shocked) actor.  i saw him in the drama where he’s a tax collector  (38 사기동대) and in a few other films and he’s really good but he’s like, quite sturdy.  i actually thought he was kind of fat until i saw him in this movie without a shirt on, and omg his muscles are ginormous.  there’s a joke where he gets one of his subordinates to apply lotion to his arms because they’re so large he can’t reach around and do it himself.  apparently he used to be a trainer so i guess that’s why he’s so big.

his character seems to exist in a state of permanent annoyance with all of the gangsters he has to deal with, and it is the most satisfying thing ever to see him beating one of them up.  i’m talking open-handed slaps that knock people out. i wish i could do that.

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i didn’t want to watch this movie at first, because any movie about korean gangsters will have a violence that many american gangster movies might not have because there are no guns.  so you have knives and baseball bats and hammers and so forth. i was reluctant to watch it because i don’t want to see people getting stabbed or beaten to death or dismembered and packed into suitcases, for example.  but my husband somehow convinced me to watch the first 15 minutes and i was rolling on the floor.  this movie is hilarious.  it’s so funny.

at the same time, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart, aka me. there were times when i couldn’t breathe because the violence was so stressful to watch.  like please don’t cut off that guy’s arm with an axe, i don’t want to see that.  although there was this one scene with a fire extinguisher which filled me with dread but was so well choreographed and shot that i couldn’t stop watching.  that’s something else i appreciate about korean movies, by the way.  since personal firearms are illegal in korea, action movies involve a lot of hand to hand combat, which can lead to really interesting choreography and for me, makes the stakes feel much higher.

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anyway, all this to say 범죄도시 is good and you should should go watch it if you can.

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