Yeong-hwa-neun yeong-hwa-da (A Movie Is a Movie) (Rough Cut) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2009
Rough Cut (korean title translates as "A Movie is a movie") the debut of Kim Ki Duk's protege Hung Jang in the directorial chair has a very interesting premise, but in a case similar to another native film, The Chaser, the movie doesn't know how to use it for the best.

A prima-diva actor and a real life gangster end up working together in the same movie. After the first one has send to the hospital two actors in a row because of his short-temper. The gangster agrees to work with him, after some unsual set of events, but under the condition that all their figthing scenes (the movie in question being a crime flick) must be real.

The idea of a movie-within-a-movie is hardly something new, but Rough Cut seems to really want to throw some insight into the whole notion of the fine line between reality and fiction. There are some amusing moments, with both characters being at each other troats numerous times. The friction between the rest of the cast and the gangster offer some solid moments. But in the second act the movie wants to stuff a lot of pointless sub-plots that go from an attempt of blackmail, to the gangster having the usual mafia related power struggles in his mob. At the end the movie just can't handle all this well and misses a great chance of becoming something more.

I'll say it's worth a try for the potential, the cast is quite good actually, don't let the two "pretty boys" actors misslead you here. Both do a quite convincing job with their roles. I suspect this could be a candidate for yet another pointless american remake. Kim Ki Duk co-wrote part of the script if my info is right, but gladly this isn't anything like his movies (not a fan of the man)
Super Reviewer
March 9, 2011
A very good film about the masks we wear and the identities we try and portray to the world and convince ourselves of. And some kick ass fight scenes!
Super Reviewer
December 18, 2010
Nice comparison of celebrity machoism and gangster machoism. Plenty of action and a nice story lead to a satisfying conclusion.
October 19, 2010
I have a soft spot for Korean cinema after living there for two years, so any reason to revisit my former home away from home is welcome.

I'm just going to say it right up front: this is a film that deserves the widest audience possible. It goes without saying that it probably won't get that but don't let that stop you from seeing it.

It's not exactly an action flick, but more a gangster movie crossed with a showbiz black comedy topped off with that special kind of pathos that only Asian films know how to do. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Hollywood eventually remake this with people like Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg or something like that.

It shakes out like this: a colossal jerk of a movie star named Soo-ta (Ji-Hwan Kang) can't get anyone to act opposite him in his latest movie because he beat the crap out of the last two actors and the media is having a field day with it. Plus, he has a girlfriend who he refuses to take out in public and insists on banging her in a van down by the river. His agent is fed up with him and a scandal is bound to rear its ugly head any day now.

Enter Kang-pae (Ji-seob So), a vicious gangster who loves movies. After an awkward run-in at a club with both their entourages in tow, Soo-ta gets the bright idea to cast him as the other actor. He agrees and everyone is so desperate to shoot, they go along with it. The only problem is that Kang-pae fights for real. That means Soo-ta needs to get tough quick if he's to win the final fight he's scripted to win. There's a lot more to the movie than that and it's a joy to go along for the ride.

Rough Cut is one of those movies made by and for movie lovers (like Inglorious Basterds). The final brawl between Soo-ta and Kang-pae is a muddy, bloody slobberknocker and easily matches that great alleyway punch-up between Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live. There's one scene in particular where Kang-pae and one of his crew are playfighting with the main theme playing under them where I felt a Real Movie Moment (RMM). Not every good film has an RMM and even some bad films have one. The point is they're random and specific to the viewer and very hard to come by. This is director Hun Jang's first feature film and his kung fu is strong indeed. I'll be waiting to see what he does next with excited patience.

Rarely does a film this good come along so stealthily. This is the best so-called "movie-in-a movie" offering in quite some time. You owe it to yourself to check this out as soon as you have the means to do so.

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