J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fabricated City: Gamer Gets Played

It takes a real piece of scum to make a lay-about millennial slacker look sympathetic, but an attorney should do the trick. Min Chun-sang will do in spades. He is no mere crooked mouthpiece. The supposed public defender is really the mastermind of a shadowy organization that frames the unemployed and marginalized for murders committed by their powerful clients. Kwon Yoo is their latest victim, but the gamer has more game than they anticipate in Park Kwang-hyun’s Fabricated City (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in Los Angeles and the Tri-State Area.

It all proceeded according to Min’s usual playbook. A cell phone was left for Kwon Yoo to find, which he readily agrees to return to the owner’s hotel room for a reward, but finds himself framed for murder instead. Kwon Yoo is referred to Min, who does a bang-up job defending him. Nobody was supposed to hear from him once he was safely buried in prison, but the former Taekwondo junior champion has more fight in him then they bargain for. First, he will stand up to the beatings meted out by gangster Ma Deok-soo and his men and then he pulls off an unlikely escape.

Once at-large, he will finally meet-up offline with his online gaming team, Resurrection. Together with their help, especially that of socially awkward hacker Yeo-wool, he investigates his notorious case. When they figure out Min’s culpability, they start taking the fight to his network, so he temporarily springs Ma to do his dirty work.

As Min, Oh Jung-se makes one of the creepiest, clammiest sociopaths (bordering on outright psychopath) you will see in many moons of movies. He is just a vile, oily dog. In short, he is a convincing trial lawyer. TV heartthrob Ji Chang-wook is actually pretty impressive in his first film role, dialing up plenty of righteous outrage as the wronged Kwon Yoo. Shim Eun-kyung (the original Miss Granny) plays effectively against type as shy, reclusive Yeo-wool. Kim Sang-ho also takes a bit of a departure from the shlubby figures he frequently plays, but he records mixed results as the thuggish Ma.

Park stages some nifty car chases and enough explosions to keep even the snobbiest film critic awake, but the best sequences involve Resurrection’s sneaking and scheming. It is a super-slick thriller that never feels its running time (just over two hours, which isn’t as excessive as it sounds, by Korean cinema standards). Recommended for fans of Korean and “wrong man” thrillers, Fabricated City opens tomorrow (2/17) at the LA and Buena Park CGV Cinemas and the Edgewater Multiplex in New Jersey.

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