Jobless, besieged by creditors, and abandoned by his wife, the once silver medalist Tae Shik has sunk to street hustling, becoming a human punching bag. Meanwhile, young Sang Hwan's delinquent ways land him behind bars. Both men look to boxing to turn around lives gone astray, aiming for the amateur title, ultimately pitting them against each other, but more importantly, against themselves.
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This movie started out very slow for me...though I have learned to be patient as that is so typical of so many Korean films....and in particular ones that are preparing you for something that will shake you and leave you gasping. Like this one did.
We are shown the hopeless and ruined life of an old boxer who, though they say he is only 40, looks 10 years older. He has a son and a wife, but is unable to support them, and a lifetime of living by his fists has taken a toll physically and mentally. He is strong, but the damage done after a lifetime of hits is affecting him.
And we see a young man, powerful and angry, out of control, a bully who uses his strength to intimidate and cover up the fear of knowing his life is going nowhere. He has a father and grandmother who love him, but he doesn't 'see' them and has no patience to waste his time with them. His greed and anger result in him accidentally killing someone as he is robbing them and he ends up in jail. There he is taken in hand by one of the guards and starts training to become a boxer.
A contest happens that gives both these men a chance to change their lives. The boxing scenes are fantastic. Anyone who has watched boxing or been a boxer would appreciate the amount of effort that these 2 actors and this film put into those scenes. The final match was riveting. I was glued to my screen and heart pounding through it all. Perfect ending...hard, painful, but perfect.
If you don't like boxing films, I'm guessing this will be a hard one for you. Boxing films spend a LOT of time on the boxing scenes and this one was no exception, and if you don't like boxing or don't find it thrilling to watch, it's going to take a lot of the enjoyment of this film away from you. But it is a beautiful story of 2 lives finding a purpose...one man with an ending and, perhaps, a new beginning, and another man with a new beginning and a new realization of what his life might be and what good he has in it.
The movie has all the elements and drills of a sports movie, but the difference is that it is not a typical black and white sports movie. Here, you don't really know who to root for, since both characters are equally desperate, dejected and both have miserable lives. The fact that you don't really know who to root for really plays with your emotions while watching them fighting each other.
The boxing scenes were rough and realistically coreographed, creating a great atmosphere of the movie. Acting was definitely top notch; Choi Min Sik is definitely THE BEST korean actor in my opinion. To sum it all up, it is a must watch for all movie lovers.