Virgil Films // 2006 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 10th, 2010
The first ever Korean gangster/prison/comedy?
A low-level hitman attacks his latest mark with a knife, gets busted, and instead of ratting out the organization and the head cheese that put him up to the violence, he swallows his tongue and gets carted off to prison. With a seven-year sentence staring him in the face, he settles down, forges some alliances with his fellow inmates, and...barely survives a vicious attack.
Who was behind the attempted murder? None other than the d-bags he refused to narc on. The crime boss, seeking to make a deal, okayed the prison hit, and -- as you might guess -- this act of betrayal seriously pissed him off. Now it's time to escape, so he works out a grand prison break plan, which will come to fruition in the oddest of ways. Next up: payback.
Righteous Ties is an odd film. It's worth scoping out, if you've got a hankering for eccentric import gangster films; just don't go in expecting Oldboy. This is primarily a light-hearted tale, whose humor is offset by flashes of violence, a smattering of stab wounds, a large gang fight, and a surprisingly emotional finale. Really, "light-hearted tale" is too soft a characterization. Righteous Ties is pretty much a straight-up comedy. Any doubts to that statement will be snuffed out completely during the runaway jet sequence.
Writer/director Jin Jang does a nice job with his smart script, populating this bizarre gangster world with interesting characters and ridiculous circumstances. Much of the film transpires in the prison, allowing the introduction and cultivation of some memorable personalities and comic sequences (My favorite: the note-passing scene in solitary confinement). When the actions shifts to the outside world revenge saga, things take on a more serious tone -- especially the ending -- but makes sense within the context of the story and works well as a complement.
The screener I viewed was bare bones, sporting a fake widescreen transfer, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo (Korean, with English subtitles), and no extras.
Not quite righteous, but not Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Virgil Films
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Korean)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated