September 12, 2010

Arahan: Urban Martial Arts Action: The Karate Kid Grows Up to Be a Cop

I'm coining a new term: Adorkable. Definition? Stupid-cute. Prime example? Ryu Seung-beom, an actor who embodies the idea here via his role as a goofy, rookie cop with unprecedented superpower-potential. The film itself, the martial arts pic Arahan (directed by Seung-beom's brother Seung-wan), is pretty adorkable too. This fabulist tale about Seven Masters guarding a magical, transferrable tattoo has found a way to philosophize about justice and balance without ostentation by keeping the action -- and there are some killer action sequences here -- in a world of black market acupuncture, backfiring self-promotion, and deadly lotus positions. This is The Tao according to Marvel Comics, or a Universal Religion that inserts its message between splashy fights and silly slapstick done with a wink. Sweetening the deal are a supervillain (Jung Doo-hong) who knows great evil requires great abs, and a foxy love interest (Yoon So-yi) who's fierce with her fists but faulty with her palm blasts. (Some superpowers are harder to perfect.) If Arahan has a fault, it may be that to describe it is to demean it. This is stupid-cuteness of the highest order, as adorkable as Old Partner is poignant and The World of Silence is creepy.

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