March 9, 2013

The Korean Connection: High Marks for Lowbrow Martial Arts

I suspect, there is a Jersey City trade school devoted to training voice-over actors for foreign flicks. Course work is light and lasts a few weeks yet all the students are placed in jobs at graduation! The catch is that they're never employed again since each production wants a fresh crew to read lines that could not be rescued by seasoned actors. With lines like "You guys are all pussies" and "Quiet, you fool!," cinematic literature, this is not. Entertaining, however, it is. And when you watch an old '70s martial arts flick like The Korean Connection, the amateurishly performed dialogue contributes, not detracts, from the overall experience.

I also suspect that the above trade school also offers workshops in screenwriting. Classes last an hour but at the end of that 60 minutes, each student has a finished screenplay in his or her hands. (Revisions are highly discouraged.) And from the looks of The Korean Connection, one workshop's star pupil Yu Dong-hun has kept his tale simple with plenty of stage directions that begin "Start fighting here." What happens between those fights is that young gangster Tiger (Han Yong-cheol) must find a way to redeem himself after being part of a crime that led to the death of his girlfriend's brother. Drowning in drink, he's approached by two patriots who need his assistance to retrieve some government papers. Such a daring act will rehabilitate his reputation and save the nation. A lot of karate chops are required to get there though.

To its credit, The Korean Connection focuses on fighting, not talking. Tiger and his best buddy, who sports an argyle sweater vest and long bushy sideburns, fight bad guys in bars, in basements, and on bridges. You never doubt that they'll overthrow deranged mobster Yamamoto but it's fun to see them kick and punch their way to a shared goal. Considering the ingenious scene on the bridge in which Tiger walks then fights a crowd then walks then fights more of the crowd, it's hard to give this movie less than a B. Grading standards aren't that strict at this Jersey City university. Nor should they be.

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