Film Review: Beasts Clawing at Straws

There’s no country which makes thrillers quite like those produced in South Korea. Whilst the plots themselves might often sound fairly straightforward; the journey rarely is. The land of the morning calm has produced some of the best and most iconic examples of the genre this century, whilst still retaining a cult edge. The likes of Memories of Murder, Oldboy, I Saw the Devil and The Chaser have wowed audiences across the globe. Beasts Clawing at Straws is another thrill-ride.

After the failure of the family business, Jung-man (Sung-Woo Bae) struggles to make ends meet, working menial jobs. One day, he finds a bag full of money in a locker at work and can’t believe his luck. Customs worker Tae-Young (Woo-sung Jung) is in hock to a local gangster (Jung Man-sik) and time is running out. His lover has done a bunk with the money. Mi-ran (Hyun-bin Shin) works as a hostess in a downmarket bar in a desperate attempt to escape from her abusive husband.

Beasts Clawing at Straws juggles several storylines brilliantly until they collide in a melting pot of brutal and violent carnage. This chicanery is masterly controlled by director Yong-hoon Kim. As you’d expect, the bad guys are evil caricatures, whilst the good guys are often bad. When karma strikes, retribution is swift and stylishly executed. However, it never takes itself at all seriously, revelling in toying with cliches. Beasts Clawing at Straws is a deftly executed thriller which beats a bloody path with a great deal of charm.

Beasts Clawing at Straws is released on streaming within the US on 15 December.

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  1. […] “A deftly executed thriller” (Back Seat Mafia) […]

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