The best thing this film has going for it is its cast, which features Jang Dong-hee (a gangster), Moon Jeong-suk (his wife), Lee Dae-yeob (a taxi driver turned badass hero), and a bevy of dramatic looking henchmen. They all have good screen presence, and turn in solid performances as well. There is some camp appeal to this film coming out of South Korea in 1964, but unfortunately its script is weak, and it comes off very much as a generic, B noir.
There is also a fair bit of misogyny, which left me with an unpleasant taste in my mouth. The main story is that the wife is raped and a photo of her in a compromising position is shown to her husband, so without seeing her he has her disfigured and discards her, so she turns to prostitution - and yet somehow she's at fault for not having reported it as rape to begin with, and continues to carry a torch for him. There's also the gangster's nanny, who suckled him until he was ten (ew), and says that it's her fault he turned out the way he did, because her milk was bad (ugh). Even the good guy announces that women are blockheads at one point. Meanwhile, the men are all operating according to some rigid code, which while stupid, somehow puts the lowlife criminals on a higher moral plane.
Despite all that, there was some hope in the first half of the film, because of the desperate situation the wife finds herself in, on the street and amidst opium smokers, as well as how hardened the husband is. When his gang questions his toughness, he plunges a knife into the back of his hand and asks his lieutenant to do the same. Unfortunately it just doesn't go to an interesting place from there. One of her tricks taking on the gang, her scars being miraculously removed, and an encounter with her husband (that had zero emotional impact for me) all just weighed down the second half. I was glad when it ended, though laughed in astonishment at the surprise director Lee Man-hee throws at us.
Quote: "What's that fire?" "Suicide by fire."
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The wife of a gangster, discarded after she is raped by another man, turns to prostitution.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
December 09, 2022 at 09:29 PM