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Wild Beasts Lurk in the Hearts of Men

2006/01/05 Source

Wolves in the wild don't roar in anger like lions do. But if they are caged, they will ram themselves against the bars again and again until they are bloody. Confinement reveals a beast's true nature.

The film Running Wild", directed by Kim Seong-soo and produced by Popcorn Films, may give the audience the impression that they are watching beasts. This hard-boiled movie shows how two men, a fiery detective and an icy prosecutor, turn into wild beasts while fighting against social evils. The movie is visually sensuous and filled with intense action scenes.

Jang Do-hyung (performed by Kwon Sang-woo) is a police detective in charge of violent crimes. He does what his fists say. Oh Jin-woo (performed by Yoo Ji-tae) is a perfectionist prosecutor. This unlikely duo joins forces to bring Yoo Gang-jin (performed by Son Byung-ho), a boss of a gang called Guryongpa, to justice. But Yoo, who has enough power to allow him to flaunt the law, tells Jang and Oh to back off.

The investigation is called off due to external pressures, and the duo is falsely accused and put behind bars. Having seen justice defeated by injustice, the two abandon justice and turn into beasts filled with a rage to defeat Yoo at any cost. They try to destroy Yoo using violence.

If one feels wild while watching "Running Wild", it is primarily because of one's natural "reaction against suppression". The dark power which lurks beneath society's surface and is impersonated by Yoo in this movie, confuses people morally. People who learned in schools that "justice always prevails" feel frustration when watching this film. The movie's end differs from other movies in that it is not a splendid victory of justice.

That is probably why only the "wilderness" can be found in the movie. A police detective who obsesses over revenge for one of his siblings acts like a bull in a china shop (Is there no intelligent detective in charge of violent crimes?). A cold-blooded prosecutor (Is there no prosecutor who doesn't wear glasses and whose hair is not parted?). A boss of a gang who seems like a boss of evil. All the characters in the movie are very typical. It is the power of the actors' performances that overcomes this standardization.

In the movie, Kwon Sang-woo's performance is splendid. He speaks foul language with his hair unkempt and face tanned. The incorrect pronunciation that has been pointed out as his problem seems to make his performance in the movie more illustrious. It's because the way he speaks conveys the impression that Jang is really a man who seems to have left his brain somewhere else. The consistently ignorant character of Jang performed by Kwon is the major factor that makes "Running Wild" what it is: wild.

Unlike action scenes from other movies where a hero wins fights even though he fights with 18 people, in the action scenes of this movie, heroes are beaten like dogs. That's what makes the action scenes of this movie impressive. Yoo Ji-tae, with his rich voice and delicate facial expressions, exquisitely plays the role of Oh Jin-woo, who obsesses over victory. Son Byung-ho plays Yoo, a character modeled after a gang leader in the real world, well and manages to express Yoo's wickedness wrapped in his ordinary demeanor.

However, the movie is missing something. The plot is subdued while the stylish characters stand out. The movie suggests no answer to why Jang says, "I want to be happy for just one day", and why Oh is so obsessed with justice.

The movie opens January 12 and is rated for ages 18 years old and up.

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