February 9, 2015

Bloody Tie: When the B in B-Movie Means Best

Dirty cops. Dirty crooks. Dirty government officials. Dirty whores. Dirty family members. Dirty, dirty, dirty. Everyone is dirty in Choi Ho's splendidly sordid, little thriller Bloody Tie. Shee-yit, even the settings are dirty — the tawdry karaoke bars, the barren underground parking lots, the ramshackle, low-rent housing, the waterfront's rotting docks... And amid this miasma, a nastily sycophantic relationship emerges between a not-as-bright-as-he-thinks-he-is police lieutenant (Hwang Jeong-min) and a sometimes-clueless, sometimes-crafty drug dealer (Ryu Seung-beom) on the make. They're both trying to screw each other while promising to help each other so you know they're bound to hurt each other but who knew their pain could be so intoxicating?

With its blaxploitation soundtrack, random hyper-violence, and chopped-up, socked-up camerawork, Bloody Tie feels like a B-movie defiantly harkening back to its low-budget roots; it's a movie that raises its fist for the disillusioned fuck-ups, the lost causes and the stay-true ethic. You'll root for the corrupt cop and the messed up meth dealer as well as the frenemy uncle (Kim Hee-ra) and the broken-hearted addict (Chu Ja-hyeon). Each of them is fighting unbeatable odds. Each of them is a loser you'd like to see win. Just once. But they can't all win. So the question is will any of them?

The material is pulpy. The acting, hammy. Both Hwan and Ryu give stares that could burn through steel and erupt in laughs that could get them committed to the psych ward. If you're craving subtler work by either actor, you can find it elsewhere. I recommend that you take a moment and appreciate that they put the realism aside and just acted the HELL out of this script. I named this blog Korean Grindhouse for a reason. I adore movies and performances like this! And you can sense that the performers are enjoying it, too.

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