Archive for December 18th, 2013

The King Of Pigs (2011)


Two men who haven’t met in 15 years get together over a drink. Kyung-min and Jong-suk who are going through some problems reminisce about their high school days and the boy that changed their lives forever. In their youth, the two were constantly bullied by the gang in their class. The gang consisted of boys that had rich parents and the teachers allowed them to do as they pleased. They called themselves The Dogs. Everyone else was deemed lower than them and were called Pigs. The gang loved to humiliate their fellow pupils. Then one day somebody challenged their authority. Chul was a boy in their class who resorted to violence in order to stop the gang. He befriends Kyung-min and Jong-suk and says the only way to beat the gang is to even more violent and evil. To demonstrate to the pair how to combat the gang, he meets them up at the place where he is staying. He pulls out a knife and stabs an angry cat that he has chained up and tells them this is the only way to get them back. He offers them his knife and to go ahead with stabbing the cat. Jong-suk is fine about this and takes out his frustrations on the animal but Kyung-min isn’t quite so sure. The tit-for-tat violence continues at the school until Chul goes too far and he is expelled. With Chul out of the way, the gang continue to attack Kyung-min and Jong-suk. They still meet Chul outside of school.  He proposes a plan to the pair that will mean The Dogs will never be able to remember their school days with any joy or happiness. Will Chul go ahead with his plan and why has Kyung-min mysteriously asked to see Jong-suk after all this time?

South Korea isn’t renowned for it’s anime movies having only released a handful of them so far. This is a violent and hard hitting award-winning anime on bullying. The story is mostly told in flashback and returns every now and then to the 2 men talking in the present day. It is certainly not an anime for kids and even though it is about two boys reminiscing about their high school days it has a dark and depressing storyline which doesn’t shirk away from portraying the brutality that takes place in Kyung-min and Jong-suk’s school. A school which turns it’s back on vicious bullying and lets students who have rich families to do as they please. The pair are humiliated several times during the course of the movie by a gang of rich boys in their class. It is obvious that the violence the pair were subjected to has haunted and shaped how their lives are run in the present as adults. It is assumed but never confirmed right at the start of the story that Kyung-min has killed his wife by strangulation and as for Jong-suk – before heading out to meet Kyung-min he beats up his wife so the 2 men have a lot of issues stemming from their past.

The king of pigs screenshot

This isn’t the easiest of anime to watch because of the raw violence that’s shown which only gets worse once Chul comes on the scene. Chul is a loner who decides that enough is enough and he dishes it out to the bullies with a ferocity that’s unflinching. His doling out of pain to the bullies provides a respite to Kyung-min and Jong-suk who becomes friends with him but seeing them aligned with Chul gives the bullies an even more reason to target them. Chul’s reasoning to combat the bullies is to fight fire with fire and even take it a step further! It’s disturbing to see Chul showing the pair on getting their own back by killing his chained pet cat with a large kitchen knife. Although Kyung-min runs out of Chul’s place after witnessing Jong-suk copy Chul in stabbing the cat, he comes crawling back and vents his fury on the poor defenceless creature. It’s all fine for the pair when Chul is around but once he’s expelled that protection is gone and the bullying goes from bad to worse for them. This bullying mirrors allegedly what really takes place in South Korean schools where this type of behaviour is rife.

Just when you think that this anime movie is about to conclude without anything major happening, there’s a huge twist which takes the viewer by surprise. Chul has a plan to make the bullies never forget their schooldays. It involves him going to the school roof and jumping off but he chickens out at the last minute until Kyung-min sees Chul’s body falling from the roof and hitting the ground in front of the whole school. Everybody thinks it’s suicide until Kyung-min notices a familiar figure pushing Chul off the roof. He never mentions anything to anybody but this secret that he’s kept for 15 years is about to be unveiled and it is the main reason why he has tried to seek Jong-suk after all this time.

Unlike Japanese anime, the style of animation in this movie especially on the faces of all the characters is different and whilst a lot may not like it, it made a nice change. This movie only had a small budget so the backgrounds are quite limited and simple. It was good enough for me.

This anime won’t be for everybody’s taste and makes for unsettling viewing because of the grimness of the storyline but I liked it’s depiction of harsh real-life situations and hierarchical Korean school society where the downtrodden and weak are targeted mercilessly. Debutant director Yeun Sang-Ho has done a remarkable job on this anime. It’s well worth checking this anime out if you’re after a realistic storyline.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Iron Angels 3

AKA Iron Angels 3

Moon is a secret agent working undercover in Thailand who joins a suicide assassin organisation as a Japanese bodyguard called Yoko. Her evil boss is a foreign lady who has a small pet crocodile she carries around on her arm. When Moon has to ditch her secret transmitter on the way to her boss’ mansion, she loses contact with the rest of the team which includes a Thai agent named Kharina, a foreign computer geek and 2 male HK agents. They don’t seem to be overly concerned as they know that Moon can take care of herself.  As Moon tries to get some information from inside the organisation about the mission they are about to undertake in assassinating a group of top government officials at a garden party, the other agents from outside try and stop their plan.

Billed by many as the weakest in the Angel (or in some cases it’s called Iron Angel) trilogy, this is certainly the wildest movie of the lot. The high-octane action is incredible and the finale contains some crazy shit going on with a huge body count which sees well over 100 people being slaughtered but I’ll get into that later on in the review.  I thought this movie had Moon Lee as the central character but she disappears from the movie for a large portion and is not present in the climax at all. For a person like myself who is a huge Moon Lee fan I was really disappointed about this. The plot is paper thin but the action that unfolds onscreen is some of the best I’ve seen in a ‘Girls With Guns’ movie so it doesn’t really matter. The action gets going in the opening scene as Moon Lee is in disguise acting like a ditzy woman on a train who gets inside a carriage with a Japanese female passenger and a man. After getting the guard to remove the man thanks to a false accusation that he touched her up, the viewer finds out that the Japanese woman is really an assassin and a brilliant fight ensues inside the carriage. There’s a nod to 007’s From Russia With Love as the Japanese woman has a blade hidden inside her shoe which springs out ala Rosa Kleb. It ends with Moon Lee shoving the assassin’s head through a window which knocks her out and she assumes her identity! There’s even a first for myself in seeing Moon Lee strip off and change clothes. Moon has probably some of the best fights you’ll ever see her get involved in (barring her scraps with Yukari Oshima from other movies). She single-handedly takes on a mansion full of killers with only her martial arts skills, a sword and a nunchaku when her cover is blown.

Iron Angels 3 screenshot

It’s the pair of Alex Fong and Ralph Chen that takes the majority of screen time in this movie and they make for a good pairing. Ralph Chen plays an agent that gets in constant trouble. If he’s not attracting the attention of a suicide bomber who is selling drinks from a mobile stand and has placed bombs inside fake pineapples, he’s annoying the hell out of Thai agent Kharina who he likes very much but she’s not too impressed by him! The story even goes off tangent when the two male agents go to see a Thai boxing match. After Fong’s character interferes in a match when he saves a man from being killed in the ring, his irate opponent challenges him to a match. The viewer is then treated to an extended and very brutal match between the two.

The best action sequence is saved for last as the evil organisation carries out it’s nefarious masterplan and sends a group of assassins on motorbikes armed with machine guns to gatecrash the important garden party. The Thai army manages to repel this raid until a massive truck smashes through a wall and when the side of the truck opens there’s a whole army of assassins ready to attack. As the Thai army begins to get hammered by the onslaught of the assassins, from out of nowhere who should appear on jet-packs which have twin machine guns inserted in the handles but the 2 male HK agents. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve seen in a HK action movie as the pair destroys the assassins. It’s literally carnage within the grounds where the garden party is taking place which is completely littered with dead human bodies!! After taking care of business on the outside it’s time for Alex Fong to have a fight with the head of the evil organisation played wickedly by the blonde haired Saskia Van Rijswijk who enjoys torturing her underlings if they don’t perform to her high expectations. It’s hard to say whether there was a joke involved in having Saskia’s character having a pet baby crocodile, it seemed to me like a parody of a Bond villain. I kept waiting and hoping for Moon Lee to appear and perhaps have a one-on-one encounter with Saskia’s character but it doesn’t happen. I have no idea why she was left out of the finale?

For an action movie this delivered on everything I expected and more besides. Moon Lee is still as cute as a button even when she’s kicking ass. A great ending to the trilogy. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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