The Prison (2017)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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Critic Reviews for The Prison
A criminally underplotted South Korean caper that's as disappointingly generic as its title.
"The Prison"...feels like the kind of movie Hollywood will remake in its own image. But adding star power and the English language won't necessarily improve things, as "The Prison" is brutally entertaining just the way it is.
The Prison is a basic concept with a simple execution that keeps the film from being a complete waste of time. Its biggest flaw is that exploring unfamiliar territory seems within the film's grasp, but instead it relies on predictability.
Audience Reviews for The Prison
This might be something I've already talked about in a previous review, I can't remember exactly where, but I don't think I would make it in prison. I've never really been prone to emotional outbursts, unless I'm really needled and pushed to that point. What I mean by that I wouldn't make it in prison is as far as my mental health is concerned, not that I'd stay up crying all night in my cell because, naturally, that would make me a target. I just think that my mental health would incredibly deteriorate if I was sent to prison. This is why I'm such a perfect human being who doesn't break any laws, at least knowingly. Like I mentioned in my review for The House, which wasn't a good movie for those who didn't read that, I'm not prone to any sort of drug addictions. Though, of course, there's many ways one can get oneself thrown in prison for an extended period of time. It's just that, out of the very many ways to do so, that would be the one I'd probably go in for and, even then, there's like a less than 1% chance I ever find myself addicted to drugs. I might smoke some weed and, really, that's it. Hell, I don't even drink. I'm, essentially, the perfect human being. In all seriousness though, while prisons are essential in the world we live in, realistically speaking, it hasn't helped to curb crime in the slightest. This is why it always perplexes me, and this is the NRA crowd, when people say that the way to stop gun crime is more guns n the street and, stupidly enough, some states actually go with this when making its laws. I don't know if I've ever heard anything as stupid as this. More murders doesn't equal less murders. So how people justify more guns as equaling less gun crimes. This so far has proven to be a complete and total (not to mention idiotic) fallacy. Regardless, that's not the point of what I'm trying to say. Let's move on to the movie, shall we? I don't know why, but, inevitably, whenever I see a movie set in prison I end up comparing it to The Shawshank Redemption. This is entirely unfair and I'm completely aware of this. Because, in all honesty, the movie and story it is based has very little to do about the hardships of adjusting to prison life while being an innocent man, at least in the case of Andy Dufresne. I mean, it IS about the hardships of Andy adjusting to prison, but it's also about so much more than that. It's about the friendship Andy builds with Red and how Andy, through helping the warden run his prison racket, attempts to, in his own way, improve the prison system for his fellow prisoners. This, of course, disguises Andy's real motive, which is to plot his escape. I love the story it is based on and I love the movie, so it's difficult for my mind not to immediately go there when I see a movie set in a prison. Even though movies like this have been around for ages prior to the Shawshank Redemption. Perhaps it doesn't capture how real prisons actually work, particularly in this day and age, but it's still an excellent movie regardless. With that said, this is really sort of a crime drama set in a prison. In many ways, it reminds me of Donnie Brasco if Donnie Brasco was set in a prison. Except, at least, in this movie, the cop in question is trying to get close to The King, another convict who, essentially, controls the prison itself. What he says goes. The reason he is trying to get close to The King is to uncover whether or not he and his guys have been allowed to leave prison in order to commit crimes/murders/heists/etc. They would, of course, have the best alibi. Nobody's gonna believe that a group of prisoners would be allowed to leave in order to commit crimes. One of these murders was the cop's brother, who was a reporter, who presented the evidence, circumstantial as it may have been, to his brother in order for him to get his superiors to do something. I mean, it's not really the most unique movie you've ever seen, right? And, I'll be honest, I loved Donnie Brasco and this movie is not Donnie Brasco. I don't know why, though. Don't get me wrong, as a whole, I thought this was quite the entertaining crime drama, but it just didn't really grab me as much as I thought it probably would have. I found it completely fascinating how The King, this is easier than typing out his name every time (sorry, my Korean brothers and sisters), runs everything and how everyone, even the warden, is under his command. If the King wants you to be the new head of Prison Service, he can make it happen. And, essentially, that is his ultimate goal. Because, in his own mind, if he controls the head of Prison Service then he controls all the prisons in Korea and can continue to run his rackets without opposition. I really do wish the movie would have concentrated more on his attempts to reach that goal. I think one of the things that's a little problematic about this movie is the fact that its narrative feels a little jumbled. Like it's juggling too many balls in the air. At first it's about the King feuding with the leader of this smaller gang and how Song (the cop) uses this to attempt to ingratiate himself to the King in order to find out the truth. Then it's about The King's feud with the current head of Prison Service. Then it's about Song's undercover work and his journey to expose the truth. Then it's about the King being betrayed by his right-hand man. Then it's about the King manipulating the warden to do his bidding. In short, I think you get the point. And, in my opinion, it all feels very segmented and kept away from each other. Yes, eventually, I feel that it all does work to serve the main narrative, but the journey to get there was a little rough. What I mean isn't that it's bad at any point, just that it feels separated from one another. It doesn't feel like the narrative is cohesive enough to make a truly great crime drama. This is a shame, because this really did have all the ingredients. The setting is compelling, the characters are strong and the acting, naturally, is great as well. It's just that the scripting isn't exactly the best at getting the most out of every ball the movie attempts to juggle. The climax is really strong though, with the backdrop of the burning prison building while Song and the King fight it out on the guard tower. It is a very visually interesting climax. I don't think my criticisms should dissuade people from giving this a shot if they really want to. As I said, it's a good movie with plenty going for it. But I wasn't a big fan of how its narrative was structured. With that said, I would still give this a recommendation. It's not going to reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't need to. This is still solid enough to warrant a watch if you've got the time and like this type of movie.
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