A trial without witnesses, when it involves a criminal matter, is not a true trial!

 The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words

John Milton

Title
Fabricated City (2017) 
Genre
Action, Crime, Thriller, Tragedy
Written by
Directed by
Country of Origin
South Korea
Running time
126 minutes

oh! … brief

Kwon Yoo, a former national taekwondo squad member is now an unemployed young guy spending most of his time role-playing or gaming in virtual realities at a local internet café instead of looking for work. He is framed by a psychotic mastermind and is arrested and charged with the rape and murder of a high school girl.

After escaping prison, with the help of fellow roleplayer and gamer ‘Demolition’ and hacker-extraordinaire, Yeo-wool, he sets out to reveal the truth, find the psychotic mastermind and clear his name.

oh! … talks film

Hold on it’s a mad race to the finish! No kidding! This film is so fast-paced and filled with action if you blink you’ll miss something. Might not be an important something, but sure enough, you’ll miss it!

Park Kwang-hyun wrote an exhilarating roller-coaster ride of a screenplay. The premise is quickly established and then it’s all downhill from there. And I revelled in every thrilling moment. The plot of the film develops in intriguing ways and is sure to keep, even attention-zapped minds, captivated.

Not only did Park Kwang-hyun write the characters for the film, he also wrote the characters for the role-playing game (an opening scene shows the role-players as if they were in the real world). In the gamer world, a combat unit ‘Resurrection’ is lead by Kwon Yoo and includes a rebellious hacker, a persecuted tech wizard, and a misfit demolitions expert. These characters in the role-playing game are mirrored in the real-life characters of the film.

Park Kwang-hyun’s action-packed screenplay narrative places an emphasis on a hidden message – an implied social critique of South Korea’s socio-economic discrimination and the perception that social and political elites are untouchable. With this hidden message, it’s no surprise then that Kwon Yoo and his gamer companions are unemployed and have to fight against the wealthier, more powerful enemies.

The screenplay doesn’t fake the reality of prison life – the beatings, the sexual misconduct and the attempted suicide are all very dark, very realistic depictions of life behind bars, whether you are in a South Korean prison or a North American one.

A solid story with substantial character development throughout will have you guessing whodunnit until the truth is revealed. And I must applaud the writer, I’m very good at solving whodunnit-styled mysteries, but this one left

The beauty of this film is in the fantastic cinematography by Nam Dong-geun, CGI and 3-D. You’d never believe that the man who directed this film only has two others to his name. The quality is that good!

As the director of the film, Park Kwang-hyun delivered astounding ingeniously envisaged high-tech surveillance scenes, tricky but well-orchestrated car chase scenes, viscerous fights, and unconventional casting of a woman as the indomitable expert hacker.

The choreography behind the action scenes and stunts was amazing! The fight scenes were edited well and it all came together seamlessly. I was and still am impressed.

Unlike standard camerawork and editing, the opening scenes ‘in the game’ were outstanding and ambitious in deference to Korean VFX house, Dexter Studios. No other scene matched the thrill and the outstanding CGI, but several standard camerawork scenes came pretty darn close.

Even so, this production is never tedious or sluggish, instead, the choreography of all the action (fights, car chases, mad escapes, high-jinks) is on par with any Hollywood production out there and the characters are engaging.

Park Kwan-hyun’s attention to detail is to be admired. Key elements, like the prison (maximum security) built out of a mountain and the horrific birthmark covering almost half of the face of the antagonist, were exceptional!

Production designer, Oh Kyou-tec had his hands full, but he managed to pull through, especially for the opening scene and the prison. Costume designer Cho Sang-Kyung did an amazing job with the wardrobe of the characters, both for the virtual world and the real world.

I must be honest and admit that I was so engrossed in the story and the action of the film that I didn’t pay much attention to the music (Kim Tae-song), but when I go back to capture stills for my gallery, I will take a listen and update this section accordingly.

The cast for this film was well chosen for the characters they would play.

Ji Chang-wook (a kdrama star) played Kwon Yoo. This is the first time he has played a leading role in a film. His performance was impressive but not perfect. I felt as if he inhabited his character well enough but struggled to give more than a single-dimensional display of his character. He certainly plays hard in the film and that is a battle in and of itself – so many action-packed scenes and he’s in most of them. He emotes well, his body speaks where words are non-existent and the audience can feel every emotion. But, it lacked a little more depth. Next time?

Yeo-wool, the shy hacker chick with the odd communicating only by phone hang up was played by Shim Eun-kyung. The character in and of itself is refreshing for even a South Korean film, firstly she’s nobody’s love interest. There are no love triangles going on, nor an unrequited love plot. She’s just a girl who’s an expert at hacking. Secondly, she’s the s, the intellectual mastermind behind the operation to save Kwon Yoo. Shim Run-Kyung channelled an inner robot to paint the super-shy (wonder what her back story is!), and uncommunicative or minimalist in communicating, brilliant and savvy girl. It was intriguing.

Min Chung-sang, a double-crossing lawyer was played by Oh Jung-se. besides a nasty looking birthmark covering almost half his face and a blinded eye, this character had an aura of a creepy villain from the very beginning. Oh Jung-se, in my opinion, immersed himself in the dual personalities of his character which was tantamount to the character of Jekyll and Hyde. What an incredible performance! Oh Jung-se pulled off the charming, if a somewhat aloof lawyer, mirroring the deadpan face of a bearer of continual bad news. It could be called charming, but the public face of this personality of this character was easy to deliver. The psychotic, maniacal and industrious antagonist, was a little harder to pull off. But Oh Jung-se did it. Portraying an unbalanced and exceedingly and increasingly frustrated man, it was brilliant to watch the development and eventual descent into full-blown insanity.  It was a hair-raising performance!

Ma Deok-soo, the prison gang leader out to kill off Kwon Yoo for his repeated insults and dismissal, was played by Kim Sang-ho. At times the character was comical, stupid in fact, but that was simply a façade. In reality, Ma Deok-soo was not only a threat but also, a dangerous man to cross. Kim Sang-ho did an admirable job, but he didn’t entirely convince me that he was in character. Half the time I felt as if he was trying too hard to be the big bad gang leader and he got lost with his interpretation. It wasn’t distracting enough to make me stop watching entirely, but it was not the best performance of the production.

oh! … sidekick

Demolition, a gamer from the Resurrection unit who comes to Kwon Yoo’s aid, alongside Yeo-wool was played by Ahn Jae-hong. While this character was a leading role, I have put him as a sidekick to our leading man Kwon Yoo. Ahn Jae-hong did such a fine job for his role, he must be applauded. His character delivery was endearing. He used his body and his face to display his emotions and it was cute (cute as in the cute a mother feels for her son) at times.

oh! … that’s a wrap

The story of the screenplay (a character framed for a crime he didn’t commit and forced to act independently to clear his name) is commonplace in the film industry. Because of this fact, anyone now using the plot has to come up with some unique elements to compete against previous films. Fabricated City under Park Kwan-Hyun’s careful direction, does just that. The film starts off with a bang from the very first scene and continues the action-packed thrills through to the final scene.

This production is fast-paced, edgy, has an industrial aesthetic look, feel and graphic finesse that is appealing.

I recommend this film, even with the minor flaws I’ve mentioned, mostly among the actors. High-tech fanatics or even just admirers and action or action thriller moviegoers will appreciate this film, both the story and the action.

It is such a rare occurrence, I must repeat what I wrote before. The casting of a young woman as the mastermind of the ‘rescue’ operation was unconventional and contradictory in terms of social expectations in South Korea, and for those two reasons alone, refreshing and amazing! And she was great in her role, Shim Eon-kyung that is.

You’ll enjoy this film if you’re looking for something action-packed, thrilling, and fast-moving.

oh! … tidbits

Director Park Kwan-Hyun took an extended break from the film industry. Fabricated City is the first film of his return after a 12-year hiatus.

oh! … soundtrack

The Soundtrack is not yet available online that I can find, but as soon as it is. I will update this section. In the meqantime this is the only song I could find online.

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

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