Fabricated City

Director:  Park Kwang-hyun
Year: 2017
Rating: 7.5

Country: Korea

This is a wild, hyperkinetic and improbable ride. It is The Fugitive combined with Mission Impossible if Richard Kimble had been brutalized and raped in prison and then tracks down the person who framed him with the help of a female cyber genius. And the person who framed him is an evil nefarious bastard who could be a villain in a super-hero movie. It never slows down and gets more and more absurd and ridiculous as it goes along but you just have to tell yourself - sure why not - sure he is suddenly a whiz driving a car - sure he can beat up a group of gangsters - sure he can escape prison after a car has rolled over ten times - sure he can set up this intricate outlandish plan in about the time it takes me to get to my kitchen from my living room. Why not? This is a lot of fun once the prison segment is over with - but suspend all your belief in reality before entering.

It begins with a huge action scene in which a group of military specialists drop from an airplane and take on a horde of killers - displaying John Woo theatrics to mow them down. And then the hero gets killed. Game over. Oh wait, it is just a video game. And if you think about it, much of the film plays out like one as well. Kwon (Ji Chang-Wook) is part of a group of gamers who take it all very seriously and whose identities are kept behind the keyboard. He is kind of a young slacker with no ambitions who once was on the National Taekwondo team but gave it up - this will come in handy. He answers a phone that has been left behind in the video game hall and is promised $300 if he brings it to an apartment - he does so, collects the money but sees no one and leaves. And then all shit breaks loose - and falls down on him -  he is arrested by the cops at home with a ton of evidence on him for raping and killing a young girl. After this film and Miss Conspirator I think it best if you don't go to the apartments of strangers. In prison the guards beat him and the head convict  (Kim Sang-ho) takes a disliking to him and enter the two rapists (implied but not seen). It isn't pleasant. But this sets up the next stage. Revenge.

He breaks out and meets up with one of his game players - Mr. Hairy - who turns out to be this young cute girl (Shim Eun-kyung) who turns out to be a master hacker who prefers talking to people on the phone even if they are next to her and who turns out to be a master perv pretender when needed. An all-around girl. The other nerd gamers all join up with their special technical skills and go after the bad guys. It turns out to be much bigger than just a single frame - it is an organization of killers, cleaners and more. And run by another computer genius who sees and knows almost everything that is on the grid. So you have these two computer geeks trying to outsmart each other. It just goes kooky and the final 40 minutes is an adrenaline rush of car chases, beatings, action and more car chases. At the end you have to ask yourself a question - was the part after the video game, also a video game? And does it really matter? It is slick, stylish and paper thin but it holds your attention till the end.

I was amazed to find out after I finished watching it that this was directed by Park Kwang-hyun, whose film before this one was Welcome to Dongmakgol twelve years previously in 2005. It was a huge box office hit and a wonderful magical film - but as different from this as one can imagine.