If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Kang Tae-Shick is an aging silver medalist who's down on his luck. Yu Sang-hwan is a small time thug who goes to jail for killing an old mobster in a mugging. Both people turn to boxing in hopes to earn a championship match, and to turn their lives around.
I think it's a little weird that the best boxing film I've seen in years came out of Korea when we have so much talent around big budget productions about the sport here in the states. The plot focus on two storylines Kang Tae-shik (Choi Min-Sik, Oldboy) is a washed up former silver medal boxer, who has had to resort basically to begging to get by. He stands out in the street and offers to let people beat him up for money. Besieged by creditors and with his marriage falling apart, his only happiness in life is his young son, and even that relationship is tenuous. Yu Sang-hwan (Ryu Sueng-beom, No Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) is a small time asshole. He lives with his dad and grandmother and younger brother. He's a petty thief, and a bully who shakes down some local kids for money. He's caught and fined, and tries to rob a local mob collector so his father won't have to exhaust his savings to pay the fine for him. The mob guy dies during the robbery, and Sang ends up in jail. Both men eventually turn to boxing to help instill meaning in their lives. Like most great boxing films, the movie is focused on the boxers personal struggles and ambitions, and boxing is the impetus for them to make things better. It's clear from the beginning that these two men will eventually meet in the ring, but what really makes this film so great is that it doesn't pick sides. Neither character is a hero or a villain, and they both have moments where you really empathize with them, and when you're really disgusted by them. As the two characters get closer and closer to the moment they'll finally fight, you're going to be extremely conflicted about who you want to see finally win.
The boxing the film leads into is maybe the most emotional boxing match I've ever seen filmed. Instead of tight shots and quick editing, the rounds are filmed with long shots and a steady camera, that makes them feel like you're actually watching a real boxing match, not the fantasy of one. Watching a Rocky, or Cinderella Man or something, the film makers usually go for the romanticized notion of boxing, the one's we see photographs of, with a punch caught at the right moment and the camera angle perfect. 'Crying Fist is more like watching an actual boxing match. It's dirty and painful, and the punches hurt and exhaustion is relateable.
What I really have to say about this film is what I said in my first sentence. This is one of the best boxing films I've seen in years, absolutely trouncing most American boxing movies. If you're a fan of boxing films or just a fan of human drama, this absolutely must be seen.
Finally caught up on requests now, so if you have a martial arts or Asian film your wondering about, let me know and I'll take a look at it!
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