Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
What's it about
A crystal meth dealer must team up with a nasty narcotics detective to stop South Korea's most powerful dealer.
Is it good movie?
ďThe world is a swamp. Some are alligators, others are alligator birds. If I keep crossing this swamp, then one day Iíll become an alligator.Ē So says the mantra for Lee Sangdo (Seung-beom Ryu), the stylish drug dealer in yet another great film from the Tartan Asia Extreme series. Here, Bloody Ties dives into the seedy, gritty and violent underworld in Busan, South Korea, where crystal meth has taken over in hard times and both sides of the law reek of style and substance. In other words, Bloody Ties is a gangster movie, pure and simple. Itís about dealers, bad detectives, rats, double crosses, dysfunctional families and junkies. Everything one has come to expect from the modern genre. Personally, Iíve only recently have started to watch Asia crime films and have become more impressed with each new one. I became interested after stumbling across Takeshi Kitanoís Brother one worthless summer afternoon and havenít looked back. Now, itís unfair to compare Bloody Ties to Kitanoís work as one is Japanese and the other South Korean, but both exhibit a unique style and emotion, something few American crime films remember to include. In fact, itís become difficult deciphering where the influence for these films derives from. At times Scorsese came to mind, but so did David Fincher and Kitano, and even Don Siegel. Perhaps that comes from Bloody Ties dark style as it melds comedy and extreme violence with a strong 70ís vibe as a funky grove provides the soundtrack. But itís also the attitude of the characters as these are men of convictions, right or wrong, as if pulled from the past. Characters here donít waste time explaining emotions to the audience. We get everything needed through something called acting.
Bloody Ties isnít a revolutionary story and smells of The Departed or Internal Affairs, depending on your movie taste. Nevertheless, it doesnít matter. Just as the characters love their meth and karaoke, I love the energy of the performances and the attitude of the film as it follows the rise and fall of an unlikely partnership, two hothead, hotshots, detective Do (Jeong-min Hwang) and Sangdo, the dealer, err, a venture capitalist as he refers to himself. At the start, both ride high, ruling their respective areas as they see fit. Quickly, however, after the new D.A. takes down all the gangs in town, both find themselves starting over, back on the streets and out of the game. The only way back in is to team up and itís a fruitful one for the audience as Hwang and Ryu utterly shine. The pair trade off color narration which reminds of Goodfellas, though here both men recite their lines with such enjoyment, such gusto that their words ooze through the Dolby Digital. Both men are void of emotion, showing compassion only with a simple glance. They believe in morals, more specially business morals where men are suppose to be men, not deceitful despite that both are exactly that. Now there will be critics who will not be able to stand the constant female abuse and profound violence with little repercussions. This is what the best crime films do. They say to hell with the P.C. standards. Bloody Ties is about living in a corrupt society, a nasty place where you wouldn't want to take the kids. Some might argue that one doesnít need to exploit drugs, sex and violence to make a film, but itís necessary. Crimeís a dirty business. And without these aspects, the criminal world wouldnít ring true.
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, DTS Surround Sound 5.1 (English Subtitles)
The Making of Bloody Ties: Basically, this is an interview with Kim Sang Mon, the director of Special Effects. It seemed to me he basically disagreed with the director and talks mostly of lighting and basic effects. Eh.
Bloody Ties doesnít offer anything new to the crime genre, but why should it? Itís a great gangster flick with the goods. Fast-paced and high octane, I could continue with a number of review clichťd words.