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  • In Focus: Fists of Legend
  • by Darcy Paquet /  Apr 17, 2013
  •  

    Directed by
    KANG Woo-suk
    Starring HWANG Jung-min, YU Jun-sang, LEE Yo-won, YOON Je-moon, SUNG Ji-ru, JUNG Woong-in
    Release Date April 10, 2013
     
    Deok-kyu (HWANG Jung-min) has fallen on hard times, though with his unassuming, upbeat personality he is unlikely to say so out loud. In high school he had been a boxing prodigy with a seemingly bright future, but in the present day he finds himself a single father, barely making ends meet with his small noodle restaurant. He’s also having trouble relating to his daughter, who is picked on by the other girls at her school.
     
    Then one day, a pushy television producer (LEE Yo-won) visits him with a proposal. She is looking for contestants to star in a popular reality TV survival program in which ordinary middle-aged men fight each other in a ring. In particular, she is casting men who at one point in their past had been legendary for their fighting skills. Deok-kyu hasn’t done any training in decades, and he is not particularly tempted by her proposal. But he can’t quite clear his mind of the cash prize offered by the network.  Before long, the TV show “Fists of Legend” will start to change the life of Deok-kyu, as well as that of his closest high school friends Sang-hoon (YU Jun-sang) and Jae-seok (YOON Je-moon).
     
    The latest film by the well-established producer-director KANG Woo-suk is an ambitious 153-minute work that draws off of the long cinematic tradition of boxing films, while also incorporating elements of a nostalgic buddy movie and a family drama. The film’s timing has to be considered fortunate, since its male lead HWANG Jung-min is still basking in the acclaim and commercial success of box office hit New World from February. Although very different in style from the volatile gangster he played in that film, HWANG’s character in Fist of Legend also provides him a good opportunity to showcase his acting talent, and his performance has been well received. The acting of YU Jun-sang, who has also been hot of late, and an extensive supporting cast of adult and young actors has also attracted notice.
     
    Produced by Cinema Service, which director KANG founded in the 1990s, and distributed by CJ E&M, Fist of Legend was released simultaneously in Korea and in select theaters in the US in mid-April. In Korea, the film recorded over 700,000 admissions in its first six days on release. This places it somewhat below blockbuster status, but it was still able to compete head-to-head with Oblivion starring Tom Cruise. International buyers will be introduced to the work at the upcoming Cannes Market in May.
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