February 21, 2010

Righteous Ties: Ganging up on the Gang With a Giggle

It's great to be popular whether you're in high school or in the slammer. You'll always have friends to sit with during lunch and someone to confide in should times get tough. The major difference between the two is that when someone back-stabs you in the latter environ, he'll be doing it with a rusty spike. That's what Chi-sung (Jeong Jae-yeong) finds out in Jang Jin's lighthearted prison-break movie Righteous Ties. Serving seven years for attempted murder, this loyal mob goon develops a close-knit clique of prison pals who help him escape and exact revenge on the mafia Don who's done him wrong. Chi-sung is especially lucky because he happens to have two best friends, too: One on the outside -- Joo-joong (Jeong Joon-ho) -- who defies code and informs him of the big betrayal; the other on the inside -- Soon-tal (Ryoo Seung-yong) -- who has some payback issues of his own. (Chi-sung's girlfriend provides him with cash and a cellphone. Really, some guys have all the luck!) True to form for a jopok comedy, the violence of Righteous Ties can be jarringly brutal as fight sequences forgo slapstick for deft choreography. Overall, this pic is funny without being a true comedy. That's it's hard to classify may be its greatest appeal.

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