CJ Entertainment // 2012 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 9th, 2013
108 stories of terror.
At first blush, The Tower appears to have a little Die Hard going on, but make no mistake, this is all about disaster. Sweet, sweet disaster, plucked from the heyday of '70s travesty cinema.
There are a couple of similarities with John McClane's opus however. The film takes place on Christmas Eve and flaming helicopters crash into the side of the building. Also tagline may or may not be a direct lift from Die Hard. But the important distinction: there are no villains in The Tower, save for combustion and structural flaws in load-bearing support structures. This is straight-up man vs. fiery death.
The scene: Tower Sky, the cutting-edge residential high-rise in the heart of Seoul, packed out with the glitterati celebrating the yuletide season. Unbeknownst to the partiers, danger is lurking. A fire has broken out and the situation is quickly exacerbated when those aforementioned helicopters barrel into the skyscraper. All Hell officially breaks loose and the body count spikes. Terrified victims leap from the windows aflame; entire floors collapse on themselves; swaths of party-goers get swallowed up by debris. Frankly, it's a damn nightmare.
But all hope is not lost. An elite force of firefighters is on the scene and, floor by floor, they work through the inferno, herding as many people as possible to the roof to emergency evac. The journey to safety will be fraught with unimaginable peril and the world-record for computer-generated fireballs.
There you have it, about as hefty a helping of disaster movie-making as you're going to see. The Tower clocks in at two hours and roughly 75 percent of that runtime is taken up with wall-to-wall fiery tragedy. Seriously, these guys know what they want and they go for it. And what they want is unmitigated mayhem.
The firefighter brigade keeps the action grounded. No molds are broken with the way they are written, but they check all the necessary boxes for disaster movie protagonists: brave, heroic, selfless and covered with soot. As to be expected, not everyone makes it out alive and, to the film's credit, these departures are handled with enough sentiment to give at least a modest amount of weight to the crap blowing up.
In the end, that's what will land the deal for most viewers: the property damage. The Tower delivers that, in relentless fashion and, to my eyes, with a considerable budget. This isn't SyFy quality of destruction. It's legit and if you're a fan of disaster romps, The Tower could be the find of the year.
A solid DVD set-up, starting with a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, a loud 5.1 mix (English dubbed and Korean), deleted scenes and a pair of featurettes looking at the cinematography, production design.
Not guilty. Light 'em up!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: CJ Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Korean)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes