Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
What's it about
One former silver medalist boxer living on the streets. One young jail bound punk. Both turn to boxing to turn around their lives for a shot at glory.
Is it good movie?
I donít throw a word around like epic very often. But Crying Fist, the 2005 film by South Korean director Ryoo Seung-wan (City of Violence), is an excellent, thought-provoking journey of two men of a collision course. Plenty of boxing movies have been produced over the years and each one follows the same basic format of the struggles to get into the ring and rise to the top. And while that clearly sounds predictable, thatís just like in real boxing where itís the backgrounds of the fighters that make the sport what it is.
Crying Fist is a character film with thorough back stories that only make them both men seem human. Real. On one hand, you have the 40-year-old ex-Olympian who now makes his living as a human punching bag on the streets. His wife and child hate him and his career choice is slowly killing him. On the other is the young asshole. He beats up kids on the street, cares nothing for his family, and sees no reason to change until he lands in prison. What I liked best about Crying Fist is the lack of predictable heroes. Both boxers share screen time equally with neither being made the obvious villain. Both have their flaws. Both struggle to understand who they are and what makes life worth living.
Of course, the obvious comparison to Rocky can be made along with the now classic George Foreman fable, but Iíd align the movie more towards Raging Bull as Martin Scorseseís classic showed ever single human flaw one person could possess without losing the audience. And despite the film comparisons, I never got the sense of repetition here. The story felt fresh as neither man viewed boxing as a future, only as a means to an end. And speaking of Raging Bull, Crying Fist has some of the most realistic fight sequences since that film. Thereís no Rocky moment where I rolled my eyes as Sly took 252 punches without landing a single jab. Of course, it lacks the Italian Stallionís flair for entertainment, but this movie is more about the drama than the action.
Crying Fist isnít flawless. At times, the pacing lags and I found certain elements a little emotionally hokey, but on the flip side, the movie is never predictable with plot twists seemingly coming from nowhere. Perhaps not everyone will dig it as itís a mean movie about the dark side of the human experience. But then again, thatís what boxing is.
Video / Audio
Video: A semi-crisp and clear 16x9 Widescreen presentation. The thing looks great.
Audio: Presented with the power of 5.1 Digital Surround Sound. Korean language with English subtitles.
Behind the scenes: Pretty typical look at the production with no commentary, but plenty of shots of people laughing and yucking it up. Would have like to heard a bit from the director.
Also, there's a soundtrack (which is pretty good), booklet, photo gallery, and a trailer!
Iíve grown to love South Korean films. Theyíre beautifully filmed, understated, and elegantly told. Theyíre effectively brilliant and humanistic, which allows the strength of the films to fully emerge. Crying Fist is one of the best Iíve seen in quite some time. Itís not horror, itís not crime. Itís just a story about two very different men. Nothing more.