The Foul King (2000)

I surprised myself when I first sat down to write this review. After looking up the director I realised that The Foul King is the fourth Kim Ji-woon film I’ve seen. This time last year, If you’d told me I’d be writing a review of a Korean film knowing multiple works of both the lead actor (Song Kang-ho) and the director, I’d have smiled politely and called the funny farm. And yet here I am. Win!

Onto the film!

The Foul King is the story of Im Dae-ho, a bank worker who is constantly bullied by his boss and has very little self-respect. After Dae-ho is late for work yet again, his boss puts him in a headlock that he cannot break. Desperate to learn a way to best his boss, Dae-ho decides to try professional wrestling. To say that shenanigans ensue doesn’t quite cut it. The wrestling starts to impact on every part of Dae-ho’s life.

Now, I can’t really speak for everyone on Earth, but when I was in my late 20’s I had what my friends and I refer to as the “mid-20 blues”. Its when you realise you really can’t keep doing what you’re doing but you have absolutely no idea how to change. The character of Im Dae-ho is stuck right in the middle of his mid-20 blues and he is so well acted and written that he is immediately relatable. He isn’t some simpering, whining, little fool, and he isn’t trying to reach the highest heights. He’s simply trying to do something for himself.

The slapstick comedy is artfully executed with perfect timing and understated execution. This is coming from someone who generally doesn’t like slapstick. Why? I blame Adam Sandler, to be honest. That’s why I mention that the execution is understated. At no point did I feel the need to shout “BOOM-TISH”, as I do with so many American comedies. Instead, I don’t mind telling you, I hit belly-laugh on multiple occasions. I even got the giggles whilst writing this review!

I guess I should mention the wrestling. Well, I’m not really a wrestling fan (as an Australian with no pay-tv, I was never exposed to it) but I appreciated the stunts and cheesy perfomances, and I loved it when Dae-ho started bringing wrestling into the other aspects of his life.

All up, I enjoyed the hell out of this film. The characters were solid and interesting and it was genuinely funny. Also, 8 years after making The Foul King, Kim Ji-woon and Song Kang-ho re-teamed to make my happy movie (read: the movie that makes Rachel happy every time she watches it), The Good, The Bad, The Weird. It’s a big recommend from me.

Rachel Fariss

Rachel is a geek, a web developer, jeweler, avid movie fan, music explorer, pop and general entertainment junkie. She fulfills her movie discussion needs at the podcast GoF Radio and her music discussion needs at the blog Rach on Tunez.