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Crying Fist (2005)

Kang Take-Shik is an aging boxer with his glory days behind him. Although a silver medallist in the 1990 Asian Games he’s now up to his neck in debt and has little to offer his wife and son. He resorts to becoming a human punching bag on the streets to unhappy shoppers/salarymen in order to make ends meet. Meanwhile, young hothead Yoo Sang-Hwan’s delinquent ways land him behind bars after trying to rob a person and killing him. Both men look to boxing to turn around their lives which has gone astray, aiming for the amateur title which ultimately pits them against each other.

What an amazing boxing drama movie but not in the Rocky mould that some viewers might expect. It’s not about finding fame or fortune in the ring. This is more of a story about 2 people that have reached rock bottom in their lives and by channeling their energies into something useful such as boxing they have a chance to regain their dignity as a human being and a second chance in life. Each man’s tale is shown separately and the characters only meet in the inevitable boxing match at the climax. You could argue that both stories deserve a movie of their own but director Ryoo Seung-Wan (the brother of one of the main leads) skillfully combines the two together. There’s very little boxing action in the first half of the movie as it concentrates on the woeful existence of the two men until they make the decision that they want to take back their lives.

Choi Min-Sik and Ryoo Seung-Num deliver stunning performances and their fight scenes look very realistic. The punches look hard and do connect. Usually in boxing movies we have a good and a bad guy but not in this one as we root for both characters although at first it is hard to like either men due to their behaviour. It is only on the road to redemption that we begin to warm up to them. They might not be the best boxers skillswise but it’s their determination and sheer hard graft to succeed as underdogs that makes it’s hard for the viewer to pick sides in their climatic bout. Although we want both to win their fight, we know that one of them has to lose.

I was disappointed that the director chose to go down the melodramatic route in the movie as we enter the final third with the two boxer’s families. We’ve seen these kind of boxing movie cliches before in other movies and it does make your eyes roll. Yes, there’s even a training montage sequence that reminds you too much of Rocky IV which I thought would have been avoided. Apart from those mistakes, I thought the rest of the movie was top notch. It has excellent direction, a gritty storyline, brilliant acting and high production values.

Crying Fist is a powerful movie that grabs you from the first scene and is well worth watching. You won’t be disappointed. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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