ave 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
since there are other violent scenes that don't fall back on the blurry
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