Through the Night movie reviewThrough the Night review

Through the Night

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Through the Night
Directed by Kim Su Jin

Starring: Yamamoto Taro
Original Title: Yoru O Kakete
Running Time: 2:13
Country: Japan/South Korea
Year: 2002
Web: Official Site
If pushed by curiosity you decided to venture into these Japanese slums hoping to document the life of Korean immigrants as victims of their political and social environment, you might not make it through the night as it is hardly impossible to survive Kim Su Jin's excruciating directing effort.

The film chronicles the life of a group of Koreans parked in a shaky town next to a polluted river and trying to escape their miserable life by selling pieces of metal found in ruins. Opening with laborious humor to vehicle by poorly drawn cartoonesque characters, Through The Night switches from "comedy" to a political and social satire before unfolding as a love story and a gangster film. Su Jin has set the bar high, building his film as a pretentious epic and the fall is even harder as only the cinematography is spared from the catastrophe. With more characters than a boys' band and total absence of exposition and narrative construction, Through The Night is set as a collection of irrelevant scenes stripped of any logic and sense of focus.

Expressing the pain of immigrants and the breach of a nation through idiotic dialogues and ridiculous imagery warped in some gross-out combo, Through The Night cripples its own cause, and is even more dangerous as international audience at film festivals might incorrectly reduce Korean cinema to that kind of futile exercise while the region's cinematic influence is stronger than ever with the works of Je-Kyu Kang (Shiri) and Park Chan-Wook (Joint Security Area).

Su Jin has also spiced his film with provocation: gory violence, sexuality, nudity and incest abound, the director obviously trying to shock the audience by borrowing Takashi Miike's emblematic taste for excess. As even Miike's work has proved, provocation should be dosed with precision and a sense of purpose to gain legitimacy, whose absence here adds to the heaviness of this otherwise indigestible sauce. Mixing street violence with dark humor and multiple colorful characters, Su Jin also aims at being Martin Scorcese and he succeeds, in a way, since Through The Night looks like Gangs of New York written and directed by Beavis & Butthead.

  Fred Thom

     Newport Beach Film Festival 2003

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