Magazine article Screen International

'The Outlaws': Macao Review

Magazine article Screen International

'The Outlaws': Macao Review

Article excerpt

Dong Seok-Ma is a no-nonsense cop in Yun-Sung Kang’s gritty crime thriller

The Outlaws

Dir: Yun-Sung Kang. South Korea. 2017. 121mins

Based on the ‘Heuksapa Incident’, a real-life gang turf war that carved up Seoul’s Garibong district, Yun-Sung Kang’s The Outlaws is a robustly entertaining crime picture. Uncompromisingly bad ass cops go up against ruthless Chinese gangsters in a propulsively action-heavy bloodbath which combines axe-based mayhem with some genuinely funny light relief. Boisterous and bloody-minded, the film has already proved to be one of the year’s significant hits domestically.

The filmmaking approach aims for visceral realism which captures messy violence

Although the film lacks the polish of top tier arthouse material, the forceful energy of its narrative, together with star Dong-Seok Ma’s enjoyably fractious turn as beefy serious crime cop Seok-do Ma, could help the film connect with fans of Asian genre cinema, both on the festival circuit, and perhaps theatrically. Although it could certainly work on VOD platforms, this is the kind of film which would play best with a receptive and vocal audience.

Detective Ma’s entrance into the film captures his distinctive approach to crime fighting with an exemplary piece of character setup. Two hot-headed low lives have got into an argument which quickly escalates when one pulls a blade and the other grabs a carving knife from a market stall. Detective Ma strides into the frame, barking into his mobile phone, and, without interrupting his conversation, delivers his trademark open handed slap with one meaty paw, disarming the combatants and dispensing his unique brand of no nonsense law enforcement.

Ma, who will be familiar to audiences from Train To Busan and The Good, The Bad, The Weird, more or less carries a film which has no shortage of colourfully extreme characters. …

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