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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Detective > The City Of Violence (aka Jjakpae/2006/Dragon Dynasty/Martial Arts)

The City Of Violence (aka Jjakpae/2006/Dragon Dynasty/Martial Arts)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B-



The American influence continues to reach Asian shores as evidenced by Ryoo Seung-wan thriller The City Of Violence (aka Jjakpae/2006) as two old friends (who have known each other since childhood) investigate the murder of an old friend from the time and discover a web of corruption and blood beyond what either expects.  Seung-wan even co-stars.


Taking its cue from everyone from Sam Peckinpah to Walter Hill (especially The Warriors, reviewed elsewhere on this site) to Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, Sergio Leone and maybe the Bond film You Only Live Twice, the film is far from original.  What makes it watchable is the ambition, effort, richness and high quality of the film that results.  Whereas most who would attempt this (and do all too often) make a terrible, cheap, idiotic mess of things, Seung-wan has a real love for all this and when you add the acting being above the norm in this genre, the production values, gloss and choreography above the norm, you can see why Dragon Dynasty made this a 2-DVD set.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is not quite as good as it should be for a new film, but color, detail and depth still pull through often enough.  Too bad this has more limits across the board than it should as the work by Director of Photography Kim Yeong-cheol is much more of the higher quality this genre should be delivering much more often and makes him a cinematographer to be on the lookout for.  Can’t wait for the HD version.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is livelier with good surrounds in both English and Korean mixes.  Bang Jun-seok’s score is not bad either.  Extras on DVD One includes a filmmakers’ audio commentary, trailer gallery and bloopers reel, while DVD Two adds a making of featurette, deleted/alternative scenes, five behind the scenes featurettes, on camera interviews with the cast, Blow By Blow featurette looking at the action sequences and all broken into pre-production, production and post-production sections.


There is room for a breakout Asian action classic and when original material is finally derived, it will be the most significant film since Kill Bill.  Until then, The City Of Violence is the closest any of the films in the new cycle of such films across the sea and might be the transitional work needed for a new boom.  Well, it does not hurt to be optimistic.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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