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  Arts & Living
Film preview
"Crying Fist" to Premiere in April
Two Ordinary Men on the Brink Fight for Their Lives
By James Noh
Staff Reporter
Ryoo Seung-Bum as the street-tough Yoo Sang-Hwan in "Crying
Fist" (2005)

In the midst of a Korean cinema boom, full of candy-fluff movies and over-stylized action movies, comes a poignant sentimental drama about life and human nature rooted in the everyday man. Hot on the heels of his commercially successful action comedy "Arahan," director Ryoo Seung-Wan brings us a touching story of two men on the brink of mental and physical bankruptcy who decide to fight back against the harsh world one last time.

Presented by ShowEast and produced by Sio Flim in association with Bravo Entertainment, Choi Min-Sik and Ryoo Seung-Bum star in this action drama, set to be released in April of this year. This is one premier you don't want to miss.

"Crying Fist" is a moving film about two men who brave their way through a rough life to come up against each other in one great fight which will decide their destinies. Based on two true stories, Ryoo combines the two tall tales of the once championship winning Hareruya Akira and the amateur boxing champion Seo-Chol into a personal epic of fate and destiny.

Choi Min-Sik as the down-and-out boxer Gang Tae-Shik in
"Crying Fist" (2005)
Shown through the physical pain of connecting fists, the mental agony of losing loved ones, and the penetrating anguish of realizing the unfairness of life, "Crying Fist" reaches deep into our minds and changes our way of thinking. Breaking away from his regular action portfolio, Ryoo paints a picture of life on the edge seen through the eyes of two ordinary men in extreme hardship with his unique stylish sense to create a human drama that will tug on your heartstrings.

Round 1: Kang Tae-Shik — A washed-up boxing star turned doormat, this is as low as it gets.

Tae-shik, once a silver medalist in the Asian Games, now gets paid to be beaten up in place of others in the middle of the street. Gambling debts and a fire in a factory have consumed everything he has ever owned, so he has no choice but to work as a street boxer in order to make ends meet. All he has left is his wife and son. To make matters worse, his wife demands a divorce and he is no longer able to live with his son Seo-Jin who is his only hope in life. With his back against the wall and nothing more to lose, the old boxer decides to go for the amateur boxing title.

Round 2: Yoo Sang-Hwan — He never pursued his dream, now he's willing to fight the world for it.

Sang-Hwan's daily routine consisted of gang fights and muggings. One day, he needs money to pay off compensation fees which in turn leads him to rob a wealthy neighbor, landing him smack in juvenile detention. The first day of confinement starts with a fight that gets him thrown in solitary confinement. A guard suggests that Sang-Hwan join the boxing club after the fistfight between him and the inmate. Boxing gradually taught him for the first time that he could actually do something. While serving time, his father has passed away suddenly and his grandmother has had a stroke. In shock, Sang-Hwan prepares to win the amateur title in an effort to shake off his grief.

Ryoo Seung-Bum in a scene from "Crying Fist" , set to premier
in April of 2005

Final Round: Tae-Shik vs. Sang-Hwan — The inevitable clash begins.

The preliminaries for the amateur championship begin. Tae-Shik gradually recovers his old boxing skills as he beats opponent after opponent while Sang-Hwan knocks out his opponent in every game. The two men both beat their opponents into submission and finally meet at the final match. The two are equally matched with uniquely respective backgrounds, skills, and destinies. Tae-Shik has no place left to go while the nineteen-year-old Sang-Hwan is fighting for someone else for the first time in his life. The fight of a lifetime between the two men who are determined to hold their ground has begun!

A True StoryTwo boxers. Real life.

Hareruya Akira makes money by getting beaten in Shinjuku Square and is a boxer with talent who once ranked 17th in the Japanese Junior Lightweight Championships in his youth. After giving up boxing, he started an electric company that did well for a while but the sagging economy drove him out of business. At that time, Hareruya started to make money by getting beaten on the streets so that he could pay his employees. Seo-Chol, often called "Korea's Tyson," got his start as a boxer in a juvenile detention center went on to win the silver medal at the National Sports Festival. However, with his father passing away from an accident while he was still serving time and his mother collapsing from a cerebral hemorrhage as a result of the shock. The only thing that kept him going through every strenuous moment was boxing. After being released, he worked as a heavyweight boxer and is now on a new career path as a K-1 fighter. Director Ryoo's perceptions of both Hareruya Akira and Seo-chol were that of men striving to overcome the desperate situation they are in without losing their positive outlook and hope. What if the two men, each with their uniquely remarkable stories, were to go up against each other in one film! This stimulating idea was what gave birth to the film "Crying Fist."

Ryoo Seung-Bum plays the role of amateur boxer Yoo Sang-Hwan
in "Crying Fist" , directed by his brother Ryoo Seung-Wan

Words from the Actors and Director
Choi Min-Sik, Ryoo Seung-Bum, Ryoo Seung-Wan

Choi Min-Sik: "This film was very hard work and the character I played didn't suit my style, but what attracted me to this role was the fact that it is about an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation. This project was meaningful and quite satisfying for me. The movie may seem rather crude at first but it is a deep penetrating look at human nature and the way a man is made or ruined under pressure. I believe that the inspirational message of this movie is needed in today's society of indifference. There's a saying that goes: 'a sliver under my fingernail hurts more than a crack in another man's skull.' This is the kind of thinking that needs to change. I recently heard stories of people committing suicide in the Kangnam area and it really pierced my heart as I was able to see the kind of pain these people go through while filming this movie."

Ryoo Seung-Bum: "I think I'm more nervous now than before filming started. It was a difficult movie to make for sure. Mostly because the fighting scenes were all filmed live. There was no acting involved. We trained to box and we fought real matches which were taped and edited. Of course it was tough physically but the mental difficulty far surpassed the physical side of it. I was also quite hesitant to throw punches at such a respected and mature actor as Mr. Choi."

Choi Min-Sik, who plays the character based on Hareruya
Akira, in a scene from "Crying Fist"

Ryoo Seung-Wan: "Right from the start, I didn't think of this movie as a boxing movie. Rather, it's a human drama portrayed through the medium of boxing. I didn't think of putting any style or unnecessary camera work into the movie as this film was to show the true grit of these men, not to make them look cool fighting. A unique method employed in this film that you probably won't find in many other movies is the extensive use of 'back shots' where the camera is shooting with the actor's back turned to the camera. I believe that even if the camera is not aiming for the face, a lot of emotion can be conveyed through a person's rear profile. Working with my younger brother and an accomplished actor such as Mr. Choi was a great experience. I noticed that Mr. Choi is always joking, eating snacks, and generally not paying much attention to filming but when the camera light turns on and I shout 'action!', he suddenly snaps right into character and becomes a different man. This was something I wasn't used to as my brother Seung-Bum is always in character when filming a movie. Even when the camera is not rolling, he stays in character lest he lose the 'feel.'"

Coming This April

All in all, this is not an ordinary feel-good boxing movie. There must always be a winner or a loser, but the audience should leave the theatre feeling like both characters won in life. Who will win? We'll have to wait and find out.






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