Beasts Clawing at Straws

South Korea, 2020
108 minutes, Color

A cash-filled Louis Vuitton bag that makes its way from an upscale gym locker to a train-station luggage stash is a metaphor for the wages of crime, its winners and losers, in this highly original debut outing by writer-director Kim Yong-hoon. Popular actor Jung Woo-sung plays a handsome if hapless customs officer in the grip of an outstanding debt to gangland sharks; Korean superstar Jeon Do-yeon is his girlfriend and, in other guises, his foil. Just how intricately the many characters are entwined is one of the ongoing intrigues Kim employs, along with Elmore Leonard-style twists on the best of yakuza-type plotting. Style speaks: The music and details like color and lighting bid us to not only suspend disbelief but to revel in it. The film won a special jury award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.—Judy Bloch

In Korean with English subtitles

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