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While closely operating under the limits of the sports/underdog genre, Crying Fist manages to step apart from other films of the like by creating bealiavable characters. Director Ryoo Seng Wan smartly plays with the conventions of the genre by placing not just one character for the audience to follow, but two. Each one with different problems, but both with the ambition to escalate from their current position to a much better one.
Acting becomes a key point here, and both leads do a sharp job in portraying the frustations and personality of each. Choi Min-Sik, the man now with a page in film history thanks to his portrayal of Oh Dae Su in the epic Oldboy, plays a boxer who once tasted the glory of the sport, only to drop down thanks to his laziness and carelessness.
In the other hand is Ryu Seung-Beom, who plays a young trouble-maker that needs something to focus his raw energy before combusting himself. The guy has his acting skills in place and manages to not let Choi Min Sik over-shadow him.
The film follows familiar territory within the genre, but then again, because of the strong cast, and tight and controlled direction, the film never gets preachy or self-indulgent. These guys are not going to become world champions or anything like that, they are just looking for a chance to really start living their lives to the fullest. And that's what makes Crying Fist a fine drama and, unlike most of films dealing with boxing, it never becomes a cheap sentimental-cheering contest with the audience.
This is an interesting boxing tale that follows not one, but two main characters (lead from Oldboy and the lead from Arahan). Both actors do a good job with their characters and the story really makes you want to see both actors come out a winner at the end. Both characters also never cross paths until the very ending of the movie.
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