By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Nobody slaps together disparate genres and tones quite like Korean cinema these days, making watching a Korean genre film with zero prior knowledge a truly unique experience.
I have no idea what’s going on.
Forbidden City really leans into the potential of this, opening with an incongruous scene that sort of demands I reveal as little as possible. Let’s just say there’s action, crime, ludicrous twists, hacking, and revenge, among other awesomeness.
Forbidden City‘s chief asset is its infectious energy, which evidences itself in many ways, from Ji Chang-wook’s star-making turn selling material that is often featherweight to the car and bone-crunching action to an approach to plotting that is simultaneously thrilling and bugnuts. Often that crazy plotting and dialogue is nutty enough to work, from the souped up dong-cha (shit-car) car chases to Mr. Hairy, which is a character name every movie could use.
So much better name.
That insane sense of plot escalation can give you plot acceleration whiplash. It’s like four different screenwriters made four different scripts and Fabricated City was frankensteined out of them, with an added rewrite to amp up the goofy humor. It’s an odd mix.
To maintain a plot like this, characters need to acquire or reveal a particular set of skills awful damn fast. Fighting, driving, hacking- everyone’s The Transporter whenever they need to be, which kills dramatic tension just a tad. Also, if you can’t spot the true villain of the piece as soon as he shows up, you’re officially bad at movies.
Let’s just say, when Korean Mads Mikkelsen shows up you know what’s going down.
That opening scene relies on some pretty dodgy CGI, and, well, you’ll see how well it ties in and can determine for yourself whether that really accomplished anything.
Fabricated City is a very energetic, often fun, and really ridiculous Korean genre smash-up that will entertain if you like that sort of thing.
Fabricated City (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: “Mr. Hairy”
Take a Drink: for technical wizardry
Take a Drink: whenever someone drives the dong-cha (shit-car)
Take a Drink: whenever the gangsters show up
Do a Shot: for Minority Report computers