Thursday, August 2, 2007

Art of Fighting (Korea 2006)

Art Of Fighting (싸움의 기술) follows a young man, Byung Tae (Hyun-kyoon Lee), whom due to his lacking grades, is forced into enrolling at a vocational school by his police-detective father. Once there, the shy and quiet Byung finds a slew of bullies waiting to make an example out of him every chance they get. Between keeping to himself and being fearful of venturing out, Byung seeks the advice of his elders, as well as referencing books in order to help him with his bully predicament. Sadly, he comes up empty-handed. Byung then meets a strange man named Oh Pan-su (Baek Yoon-sik), who is staying in room B, a special room in the Daemyeong reading room. Pan-Su is a gruff and street-wise man who has the scars to prove he's led an exciting life. The only thing that keeps him hanging around is the fact that he's waiting to receive a fake passport from some gangster types so he can leave town. Byung asks Pan-su to teach him how to fight, and after multiple rejections, Pan-Su finally agrees. The two slowly begin to form a bond and learn from each other.

Art of Fighting is a film that doesn't tread any new ground, but with the performances from its two leads, you won't even mind. The story is very streamlined and is void of any sub-plots that could hurt the relationship of the leads. It keeps a humorous tone, though the training does get a little dramatic at times. However, that only helps keep the dynamic of the story, as well as keeping the characters strong and engaging. I will admit, their is even a part where I was cheering out loud at my screen, because it does become that fun to watch. Plus, the choreographed fight scenes are done very well, and they maintain a nice "street-fighting" feel so you don't have to worry about the wire-fu. It's really hard for me to not like Art of Fighting and I'm very excited to see what Shin Han-Sol, the writer and first time director, has in store for us the second time around! (CBKevin)

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