The City of Violence (Jjakpae) (2006)

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Martial-arts pro Jeong Du-hong stars as Jeong Tae-su in notorious Korean action director Ryoo Seung-wan's The City of Violence (aka Jakpae). A former punk and brawler-turned-police detective, Tae-su returns to his hometown for the funeral of a buddy, Wang-jae (Ahn Gil-gang). Once there, he reconnects with members of the "old gang," including the tough but loyal fighter Ryoo Seok-hwan (played by the director) and the gang leader, Jang Pil-ho. Tae-su suspects foul play in Wang-jae's death, and instinctively ties it to Pil-ho, now a scuzzy slimeball with a massive inferiority complex and hordes of armed men. His instincts, it seems, are correct -- Pil-ho indeed had Wang-jae rubbed out. Thus, Tae-su and Seok-hwan ultimately take on Pil-ho at an abandoned Korean restaurant, fighting myriads of his henchmen with bare knuckles, blades, and Korean martial arts, and accompanied by a rousing Leone-style score.

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Critic Reviews for The City of Violence (Jjakpae)

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

Roly-poly comic Lee Beom-su's terrific performance as the oleaginous villain is another plus, setting the seal on a no-nonsense action flick delivered with skill and conviction.

Jun 8, 2007 | Full Review…

A pure show with a tight story, great acting, and fantastic action scenes you can't miss...

Jun 9, 2010 | Full Review…

Knowingly derivative, Ryoo's action-driven elegy is nevertheless full of surprises - not least of which is its relative restraint.

Jun 8, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

KOREAN cinema's answer to Quentin Tarantino, Ryoo Seung Wan lives up to his all-action reputation with this bone-crunching, chop-socky revenge thriller.

Jun 8, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

There's not much below the surface, and it does take time to get up to speed, but the jovial, high-energy approach and the endless charisma and athleticism of the leads makes for a superior slice of high-kicking entertainment.

Jun 8, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

You might have seen it all before but you probably haven't seen it done with this much style.

Jun 8, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The City of Violence (Jjakpae)

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½

A Seoul cop returns to his hometown for the funeral of a boyhood friend but when he finds that one of their own is responsible, the remaining two friends unite and declare war on those responsible. City Of Violence looks like a gangster thriller on the surface, but its lack of depth and grittiness in the story and characterisation, combined with virtually non-stop fight sequences mean it is actually a pure martial arts film. The narrative is a little too reliant on montages and flashbacks, and we know little about the characters apart from the fact that they look cool and are hard as nails. The action is actually brilliantly handled and the direction is very stylish, the final showdown (which is very similar to that of Kill Bill Volume 1) in particular is supremely exciting and well done. The emaciated script means it will never win any awards for high drama, but its a fun ride for those who enjoy slickly choreographed, bone-crunching martial arts mayhem.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

What seems like it may be a cross between Stand By Me and any number of revenge films underminds itself by being too lighthearted. A serious plot and wonderfully characterised friendships are ruined by the music video style editing. The fight scenes are spectacular but don't make too much sense, which wouldn't matter in a balls out action flick. The film is short and considering the last 20 minutes is an epic showdown the story moves fast and furiously. Of course like so many martial arts films it's a good job everyone knows martial arts or the fights would be dull. Very entertaining and certainly worth a watch.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

I have to say i was expecting a bit more from this one, especially after seing such a character-driven film like it was Crying Fist, the previous film from the director. Here the characters are hardly explored, the friendship of the five main characters and what motivated their future actions are left a bit in the dark. Considering what a vital role their relationship has in the plot i wish the director would had included a bit more about them, especially about the 3 main characters. Seems that Ryu just exhausted himself too much while making this (he's writer,director, co-star, edited and what not) Of course, some would say the character development in a film focused in martial arts will always be limited, but i truly disagree on that one. There are several MA films that contain enough character development to sustain themselves, and more importantly, to real make you care about what's happening to them. Because at the end that's what can make or kill an action film, the characters. No matter how flashy the action is, if you don't care at all about the characters then it's a total waste of time. That said The City of Violence is not a total waste of time at all, Ryo Seng Wan's direction is good in the right places, the soundtrack is groovy as hell and fits perfectly, and the fight sequences are well coordinated. Maybe this film needs some rewatching, still, i can't help to feel it could have been much more. Neverless, a safe watch to any action fan.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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