Park Kwang-hyun's follow-up to Korean War drama 'Welcome to Dongmakgol' is
a stylishly high-tech revenge thriller.
Playing like an updated version of Park Chan-wook's Oldboy set in
the world of online video games, Park Kwang-hyun's Fabricated City tracks
the efforts of a desperate gamer to uncover the forces behind his unjustified
imprisonment for murder. Featuring a fast-paced plot and a snappy visual style,
Park's absorbing third feature should appeal equally to high-tech enthusiasts
and action film fans.
As the leader of the online video game combat unit Resurrection, skilled
tactician Kwon Yu (Ji Chang-wook) has a reputation for putting his talented
team members first, including a rebellious hacker, a persecuted tech whiz and a
misfit demolitions expert. In reality, Kwon's life is anything but heroic, as
he struggles with chronic unemployment after getting cut from the national tae
kwon do squad for assaulting a teammate.
Still living at home with his mother, Kwon dodges his responsibilities by
spending most of his time at an Internet cafe immersed in the virtual combat
world along with the other players. His life turns suddenly surreal however
when he's summarily arrested and charged with raping and murdering a minor
after returning an abandoned cell phone to a mysterious female caller.
Facing overwhelming forensic evidence but with no recollection of the
crimes he's accused of committing, Kwon gets convicted during a disorientingly
swift trial. His public defender Min (Oh Jeong-se) encourages him to admit his
guilt in hopes of a reduced sentence, but Kwon maintains his innocence,
resulting in a life term without parole. Totally unprepared to survive in
prison, Kwon is immediately targeted by hardened inmate Ma (Kim Sang-ho) with
repeated beatings. Only with the help of a resourceful serial killer does he
manage an unlikely escape.
As Kwon attempts to evade a nationwide
manhunt, he’s contacted by his old video game teammates, who have been
independently investigating his case, finding evidence of a mysterious
underworld organization that may be responsible for his conviction. With the
police dragnet closing in and released prisoner Ma relentlessly tracking him
down, Kwon and his allies will need to combine forces to avoid arrest and prove
Park's action-oriented script is distinguished
by its emphasis on indirect social commentary regarding South Korea's
socioeconomic inequalities and the perceived untouchability of social and
political elites. It's no coincidence that Kwon and his gamer cohorts are
unemployed outsiders seeking retaliation against their more wealthy and
powerful adversaries, who are all looking for scapegoats to take the blame for
their clandestine crimes.
The unconventional casting of a young woman
(Shim Eun-kyung) as the expert hacker from Kwon's online gaming team gathering
evidence to exonerate him similarly contradicts social expectations,
particularly because of her expertise as a strategic collaborator rather than a
typical romantic interest.
Although the film's rapid-fire plotting
sometimes seems rather ungainly, Park still delivers plenty of creatively
conceived high-tech surveillance sequences, intricately staged car chases and
unexpectedly visceral fight scenes without resorting to a hackneyed imitation
of video game aesthetics.
Distributor: CJ Entertainment
Production company: TPS Company
Cast: Ji Chang-wook, Shim Eun-kyung, Ahn
Jae-hong, Oh Jeong-se, Kim Sang-ho
Director-screenwriter: Park Kwang-hyun
Producer: Kim Hyun-chol
Executive producer: Jeong Tae-sung
Director of photography: Nam Dong-keun
Production designer: Oh Kyou-tec
Costume designer: Cho Sang-kyung
Music: Kim Tae-seong
Editor: Kim Zino
Not rated, 126 minutes
Full Article: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/fabricated-city-977474