Beat (1997) Movie Review

Have you ever seen an Asian gangster movie? No? Well, have you ever seen any gangster movie? If the answer is Yes, then you know how this one will end because it’s simply a South Korean version of the very, very familiar “young tough rises through the criminal ranks through courage and brains and blood only to meet a bad end” storyline. It’s all been done before, and sometimes better, sometimes worst. “Beat” is not the worst of the lot, but it’s not the best of the lot by a long shot.

There are some things about “Beat” that lends itself to being liked. The movie is very fast-paced and moves through many years in the lives of a small group of intimate characters, so there are revelations, changes, and a constant sea of turmoil taking place. Nothing ever really stands still, like life itself. Things are always happening, the world is always changing, and you’ll never be bored.

That being said, “Beat” does little except not bore its viewer. For one, the story is tried and true and been done to death. In homage to its American counterparts, the director even namedrops Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas”. So it’s no surprise that “Beat” doesn’t break any new grounds. In fact, the only thing it adds to the young-gangster-on-the-rise-only-to-be-doomed premise is the addition of the very South Korean tradition of taking the state college level entrance exam. One character, a friend of the female lead, does so poorly on the college entrance exam that instead of facing her parents, she flings herself in front of an oncoming train. The female lead, Romi, is so traumatize that she goes insane and has to be committed for a couple of years.

“Beat” is average at best, and the director only added to the mess by filming the action scenes in a kind of choppy, blurry style that makes seeing the individual actions almost impossible. Directors employ this method for two reasons, and only two reasons. 1) They’re aware of their actors’ (limited) capabilities and knows they can’t perform the scenes as written, so the directing “choice” is made to keep the scene’s weakness a secret and covered up; or 2) The director just made a very, very bad choice in the name of style and royally screwed the pooch. I tend to believe in the former explanation, since there are other violent scenes that don’t fall back on the blurry technique.

Oh wait, you want to know what happened in the movie?

Long story short: good guy can’t escape because the other good guy, his buddy, keeps pulling him back in. Besides that, add a pain-in-the-ass girlfriend who is as selfish as she is childish, and we all know our hero is going to have a bad time near the end.

As I said, it’s all been done before, but at least it’s very entertaining this go-round.

Sung-su Kim (director) / Young-man Huh (screenplay)
CAST: Woo-sung Jung …. Min
So-young Ko …. Romi
Chang Jung Lim …. Whan


Buy Beat on DVD



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • Jessie Marksman

    I don’t think this movie is average because it the storyline wasn’t original. The storyline may have been told in America but not in Korea. Cultures are so different throughout the world I thought it was interesting to see what a gangster’s life might be like in South Korea.

    Immigrants living a life in America struggled because of oppression and dealing with culture clash. Many second generation immigrants struggled the most, being smack in the middle of a culture clash. This caused quite a number of people to rebel and turn towards the dark path to substitute for family connections, brotherhood, and to find a sense of belonging.

    “Beat” shows a totally different situation, not of oppression, but within it’s own culture dealing with the dark side of life. Seeing the utter importance of education and feelings of desperate fear of ghosts are not included in other gangster movies.

    For younger generations in Korea, I’m sure this movie impacted their hearts and minds.
    So please, don’t compare movies to other movies in other countries!! Grr… Even the same movie shown in one country and another could mean something or impact a person completely differently…. Geez.

  • Jessie Marksman

    I don’t think this movie is average because it the storyline wasn’t original. The storyline may have been told in America but not in Korea. Cultures are so different throughout the world I thought it was interesting to see what a gangster’s life might be like in South Korea.

    Immigrants living a life in America struggled because of oppression and dealing with culture clash. Many second generation immigrants struggled the most, being smack in the middle of a culture clash. This caused quite a number of people to rebel and turn towards the dark path to substitute for family connections, brotherhood, and to find a sense of belonging.

    “Beat” shows a totally different situation, not of oppression, but within it’s own culture dealing with the dark side of life. Seeing the utter importance of education and feelings of desperate fear of ghosts are not included in other gangster movies.

    For younger generations in Korea, I’m sure this movie impacted their hearts and minds.
    So please, don’t compare movies to other movies in other countries!! Grr… Even the same movie shown in one country and another could mean something or impact a person completely differently…. Geez.

  • Jessie Marksman

    I don’t think this movie is average because it the storyline wasn’t original. The storyline may have been told in America but not in Korea. Cultures are so different throughout the world I thought it was interesting to see what a gangster’s life might be like in South Korea.

    Immigrants living a life in America struggled because of oppression and dealing with culture clash. Many second generation immigrants struggled the most, being smack in the middle of a culture clash. This caused quite a number of people to rebel and turn towards the dark path to substitute for family connections, brotherhood, and to find a sense of belonging.

    “Beat” shows a totally different situation, not of oppression, but within it’s own culture dealing with the dark side of life. Seeing the utter importance of education and feelings of desperate fear of ghosts are not included in other gangster movies.

    For younger generations in Korea, I’m sure this movie impacted their hearts and minds.
    So please, don’t compare movies to other movies in other countries!! Grr… Even the same movie shown in one country and another could mean something or impact a person completely differently…. Geez.

  • LP

    “As I said, it’s all been done before… ”
    You must be kidding! When did you watch this movie? 1997 or 2001? I remember in the year of 97, the movie received a lot of good feedback. To me the plot was very interesting. (at that time)

  • LP

    “As I said, it’s all been done before… ”
    You must be kidding! When did you watch this movie? 1997 or 2001? I remember in the year of 97, the movie received a lot of good feedback. To me the plot was very interesting. (at that time)

  • LP

    “As I said, it’s all been done before… ”
    You must be kidding! When did you watch this movie? 1997 or 2001? I remember in the year of 97, the movie received a lot of good feedback. To me the plot was very interesting. (at that time)

  • septem69r

    Stupid b**ch. This is very nice and best Movie. 1997 its long time ago ok. I like this movie. I have The Beat DVD.

  • septem69r

    Stupid b**ch. This is very nice and best Movie. 1997 its long time ago ok. I like this movie. I have The Beat DVD.

  • Zol

    this is very amazing movie

  • Chenny_bat

    great movie this is. this really paved a some kind feelings and commitment in showing what kind of a world we are living in. and after all, this is life, true of what humans actually are(manly friendship, respect for each other and a man’s heart for a woman)