Saturday, June 17, 2006

'The Foul King' or 'Nacho Libre'?

While I'm debating to see "Nacho Libre" (it's got lucha libre fighting in it, and Jack Black...the former alone makes it 89% tempting to watch), I can't help but wonder why no one's bringing up director Kim Ji-woon's 2000 film "Banchikwang" (English title, "The Foul King." Protip: A google image search for "Banchikwang" in Korean brings up probably as many photos of Anton Ono.)

And I know for a fact this has been released in the U.S. before in some form. And before I get some crazy letters and stuff from people saying "Man, it's a totally different movie," I'm not saying Jared Hess is biting Kim Ji-woon's movie, but I mean to say check this movie out too, ok? So calm down and slowly move that cursor away from the "send" button and hear me out here.

(The Foul King meets Nacho)

The story of "Foul King" is about Dae-ho. Movie cross-reference tangent: Dae-ho played by the great Kang Ho-sung, probably better known to the Americans who read this as the wronged father Park Dong-jin in "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" or Detective Park Doo-man in "Memories of a Murder." He does great comedy too folks. One of his break out roles was playing an ignorant gangster leader wannabe in the comedy "Number 3", a sort of satirical look at the third-rate people that populate society.

Dae-ho is the typical downtrodden salaryman. His boss yells at him all the time, no one takes him seriously and he's treated like a chump. Despite his meek nervous exterior, he's a big fan of wrestling and one day takes the plunge to learn how to wrestle. He first starts out as the fall-guy type of role in the wrestling circuits, losing and getting beat up, but then he begins to fall into the the bad guy superstar role of the Foul King, with his mask and utility chest "belt" filled with cheating utensils.

Of course, this means the wrestling leaks out into his real life and his life changes and yadda yadda.

I highly recommend anyone hoping to watch "Nacho Libre" to also try to get a hold of "The Foul King." Both are comedies, but "Foul King" comes from a pretty sharp look at Korean society. Dae-ho lives the everyday type of boring life that most Koreans live: Frustrations with an overbearing boss, not really being able to retaliate and the pressures of having to be a decent person in a Confucian society. It seems like everyone who plays foul in Dae-ho's life gets the better of him as he suffers as the typical nice polite person society expects everyone to be. While this movie isn't saying that you have to be a terrible person to succeed, it does seem to say that life isn't fair and you have to be able to expect some unfairness and to get through that, you need to have the ability to break out of the norm.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When i saw Nacho Libre advertised i too imediately thought of Foul King...and like you say they are kinda different but lets be honest originality aint holywoods style and many ideas are somewhat borrowed..glammed up and sold western style to people who have bigger voices

So yes you are being very polite but i get your point completely

11:48 AM  

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