Film Review: City of the Rising Sun (1998) by Kim Sung-soo

Merely a yr after seeing success with “Beat”, director Kim Sung-soo would as soon as once more crew up along with his star from that manufacturing, Jung Woo-sung, for yet one more story of friendship and uncared for youth in “Metropolis of the Rising Solar”. Solely this time, Jung would additionally carry alongside for the journey his real-life finest good friend Lee Jung-jae, who had seen average success the earlier yr with “An Affair” for a star-making and award-winning flip.

“Metropolis of the Rising Solar” is screening at Florence Korea Movie Competition

The actual-life finest associates play reel-life associates too. Do-chul, performed by Jung Woo-sung, is a boxer who has the ability and keenness for the game however isn’t actually minimize out for the sport, profitable nothing however cuts, bruises and concussions. Lee Jung-jae’s Hong-gi, in the meantime, is a low-level gangster working as a debt collector for a mortgage shark who locations cash above all else. Hong-gi manages to get Do-chul a job along with his boss. Do-chul desires to achieve boxing however doesn’t wish to resort to any means needed. Hong-gi then again is a materialistic one who loves cash, going to the extent of conning ladies to get it, however doesn’t respect it and is neck-deep in debt, playing away each Gained nearly as quickly as he earns it. The 2 associates love one another like brothers however their totally different philosophies and outlook at life usually brings them to loggerheads. 

Kim Sung-soo, as soon as once more after “Beat”, takes the chance to be the voice of the misplaced technology of Korea of the late 90s, which was nonetheless reeling within the aftermath of the Asian Monetary Disaster in ’97. The youth of the nation is represented right here not simply by the 2 central male leads but in addition by Mimi, a mutual good friend that Hong-gi falls for. The story arcs of all three characters contemplates the extent of 1’s ambitions and the fee one has to pay to succeed and fulfill these ambitions. Via this, there’s additionally transient commentary on the destructive impacts of capitalism on a technology simply seeking to discover its footing on the planet. Consider a 90s set “Chilsu and Mansu”, solely extra nihilistic, and it provides a short concept of what to anticipate with the narrative.

Like with “Beat”, the feminine in “Metropolis of the Rising Solar” additionally doesn’t get the identical respect as her male counterparts on the writing stage. If Romy, the lead’s girlfriend, was underwritten within the 1997 movie, right here Mimi suffers worse. There was adequate scope to develop the character additional however that by no means involves go, leaving her as a token presence that wouldn’t be missed if written out of the story. On the flip facet, the 2 male leads are etched out very richly, making Mimi’s poor growth not too main a difficulty.

It’s no secret that each Jung Woo-sung and Lee Jung-jae have attraction to spare and it’s on full show right here too of their younger selves. There’s ample alternative for each to sharpen their dramatic talents as properly however it’s when their swagger is on show that their roles shine. The relocation of their real-world friendship onto the massive display leads to terrific chemistry between the 2, each enjoying off one another properly, even when offended with their respective on-screen associates. Each different function within the function, together with that of Han Go-eun’s Mimi, performs second fiddle to theirs, maintaining each these charismatic and extremely good-looking younger actors entrance and centre of the narrative.

Equally fashionable and handsome is Kim Hyung-koo’s cinematography. The DOP, finest identified for works like Bong Joon-ho’s “Recollections of Homicide” and “The Host” alongside Hong Sang-soo’s monochromatic “Lodge by the River”, “Grass” and extra of the auteur’s vibrant options, applies a variety of attention-grabbing methods, together with however not restricted to low body charges, sweeping handheld digital camera work and freeze frames, make for an attention-grabbing and (for its time) radical cinematography. Equally eclectic are the music decisions, with the whole lot from storage rock, doo-wops, twist and pop thrown in for good measure, with superb use of the tune Love Potion No. 9 at opportune moments.

Regardless of being twenty-three years outdated, “Metropolis of the Rising Solar” has misplaced none of its attraction and significance and can all the time be an important watch from the early days of the Korean New Wave. It nonetheless stays the one movie Jung Woo-sung and Lee Jung-jae have acted in collectively, making the truth that the 2 associates, who acted in a function about two associates eager to earn cash collectively, happening to establishing a profitable manufacturing firm of their very own and equally profitable particular person careers in real-life nearly too poetic.

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