Thursday, February 27, 2014

In short: The Beast (2011)

Original title: 짐승 (Jim-seung)

Some shady but not very bright gangsters with an internet porn business decide that the way of the future is more or less kidnapping some real (racing queen-type) models and pressing them into service for live internet snuff rape pornography. Thus happens to Bo-ra (Nalie Lee), who is at least luckier than one of her model friends and not accidentally getting killed by her incompetent captors.

Bo-ra’s also rather lucky that her brother is special forces man Tae-hoon (Jeong Seok-won), because once Tae-hoon learns what is supposed to happen to his sister in just a few hours, he – and Bo-ra’s friend Se-yeon (Jeon Se-hyeon), because someone has to drive the car – is cracking gangster skulls left and right. Tae-hoon is certainly not going to stop doing it until he’s found Bo-ra.

The basic motivator of the protagonist of Hwang Yoo-sik’s The Beast is obviously rather tacky, and certainly not a sign of a film out to do anything of interest with its female characters. Still, it’s not difficult to understand why you’d use it as the base for a low budget action movie like this, because it makes clear that the bad guys are really really bad, and gives the protagonist a relatable excuse for his own acts of increasing violence, which is probably all anyone involved with the film ever wanted.

If you’re willing to go with this, The Beast turns out to be a fine example of its style and form, dominated by short and sharp fight scenes taking place in all kinds of anonymous urban squalor you can imagine. For me, there’s always something perfect about a film not making excuses for its simplicity like this, particularly when it, like The Beast does, concentrates on a handful of things it then proceeds to do very well indeed.

On the other hand, there really isn’t much depth to the film: what you see is what you get, and if you expect any cleverness beyond an execution of very traditional elements as perfect as its budget allows of The Beast, you will be sorely disappointed by it. Me, I’ll take whatever kind of perfection is offered and be satisfied with it.

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