A Dirty Carnival

A gritty look at a low-level hoodlum torn between his blood and mob families, Yoo Ha's fourth feature (after the critically acclaimed Once upon a Time in High School) plays like a Korean Mean Streets or Goodfellas (the original title, in fact, literally translates as “Mean Streets”). Byung-doo is a cocky twenty-nine-year-old gangster splitting his time between ruthlessly collecting debts for his immediate boss and worrying about his own family's financial problems. When he sees a chance to move up in the gangster hierarchy, he takes it, but a random encounter with an old friend who's making a film may ruin all his work. In the past few years, Korean cinema has earned a reputation for well-made, hard-boiled gangster films, but A Dirty Carnival raises the ante. Focusing more on human relationships and the emotions of its underdog antihero than bloody showdowns (though it certainly doesn't disappoint on that end), the film heralds director Yoo Ha as a talent to watch.

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