Modest sauna attendant Jung-man (Bae Sung-woo) checks the lockers for things before leaving work and in one of the lockers he finds an expensive Louis Vuitton bag filled to the brim with large bills. Jung-man places the bag in the Lost and Lost Storage, but does not register it. He is tempted to take the bag for himself: Jung-man lives in a squalid little house with his mother, who suffers from dementia, and his wife, whom his mother pushes.
Tai-yeong (Jeon Woo-seong), a port customs officer, owes a large sum of money to crime boss Mr. Park (Jeon Man-shik). Well, more precisely, it was not Tai-yeon himself who owed money, but his girlfriend, who suddenly disappeared, leaving all her belongings, and the customs officer took over her debt. Well, or Mr. Pak decided that this debt would be on him. And arguing on this topic with Mr. Pak is very dangerous, especially since his henchman, nicknamed Som (Bae Jin-un), never parted with a huge knife, and he uses this knife without hesitation. So Tai-yeong is frantically trying to raise money somewhere, with the most dangerous job being done by his distant cousin Karp (Pak Chi-hwan).
Mi-ran (Shin Hyun-bin) is a young girl who works as a prostitute at a place owned by powerful lady Yeon-hee (Jung Do-young). Yeon-hee shows a certain participation in the life of Mi-ran, and the girl needs it: her husband constantly beats her and the girl needs to solve this problem somehow. At some point, Mi-ran meets a young guy from China, Jin-tae (Jung Ga-ram): he was her client, but then they start an affair. Jin-tae knows that her husband is beating Mi-ran and offers to kill her husband.
Film directed by debutant Kim Yong-hoon. The script was written by the director himself based on the book by Japanese writer Sone Keisuke Wara nimo Sugaru Kemonotachi. The original title of the film is translated as “Beasts That Cling to the Straw”, and where our distributors got the name “Snatch” from is completely incomprehensible, especially since the English title also sounds like Beasts That Cling to the Straw (“Monsters that cling to the straw” “). However, I think they did it on purpose so that the audience would confuse this film with the classic Guy Ritchie film.
The film is divided into seven chapters, each chapter has its own title and is dedicated to a specific episode. Viewers do not immediately realize that the events in this film are not shown linearly: after the first episode, in which the employee takes a bag of money out of the locker, they will alternately show the events that led to the appearance of this bag, and what happened to the bag after they took it out of the locker.
There are some good plot twists in the picture, when the action turns completely in the wrong direction, which you seem to expect. Moreover, as it should be for a good crime thriller, the further it goes, the more interesting it is to watch, and you keep thinking – where is it all going to go, who will be able to take possession of this money?
The brightest role in the picture is in Jung Do-young, who played the owner of the brothel Yeon-hee. This is a very interesting character! Self-confident, she can easily tame a raging drunk client, she plays her own game, and it is impossible to predict what she is up to. At the same time, for her there is no morality and no laws: she will eliminate anyone who gets in her way. That viper, in short.
Also good is Mr. Park, played by Jung Man-shik. A colorful bandit who loves to play cat and mouse with his victims. And behind him always looms the silent Catfish (in the original Catfish) with his knife, terrifying.
Prostitute Mi-ran performed by Shin Hyun-bin – liked it. A beautiful girl who at first gives the impression of being fragile and defenseless, but she can stand up for herself and will also stop at little.
The rest of the roles are less bright. Customs officer Tai-yeon, on which a significant part of the action is built, somehow did not impress me, to be honest, although it was played well. The customs officer really clung to all the straws he could, pushed around the silly Karp (his real name is Carp) and tried to get money by any means. And he firmly believed that Lucky Strike cigarettes would save him from any trouble.
The picture is staged quite maturely – here you can’t even say that the debutant was filming. Nightclubs, gangster dens, the squalid environment of Jung-man’s shack, Yeon-hee’s luxurious house, and all sorts of colorful street and other food establishments, because characters, as is often the case in Korean films, often eat something during conversations and drink something.
There were several complaints about the plot, because some moments were not very clear to me, but here it is quite possible that these are translation difficulties. And I will ask these questions under the spoiler at the end of the review.
But in general, I liked it. I like to watch some South Korean crime thriller from time to time, they are very different from American films. A completely different style of shooting, everything looks quite unusual and exotic, besides, these films have very interesting plot twists.
About the voice acting. I watched with a professional polyphonic voiceover that the picture has in iTunes. Done well: the original voices of the actors are heard, while the voice acting is clear and well distinguishable. I can’t say anything about the quality of the translation, but the film looks quite normal with this version of the translation.
PS Now about the questions that remain to the plot.
The most important. The film clearly shows that the customs officer’s girlfriend, who suddenly disappeared, leaving her debts on the customs officer, is the same owner of the Yeon-hee brothel: she later comes to the customs officer’s apartment. That is, it turns out that a rich woman (the film shows what luxurious interiors she lives in), driving a luxury car, the owner of a prosperous business, lived with a customs officer in his frankly wretched apartment and at the same time also borrowed money from Mr. Pak, after which ran away? This is the most incomprehensible thing for me.
With a friend of a prostitute from China, it also somehow turned out strange. He easily killed a man, and no one forced him to do this, he himself suggested it. He killed and disposed of the body, and then, when he found out that he had killed the wrong one, he fell into hysterics, stopped sleeping and was about to surrender to the police. Something somehow does not stick to such behavior with a person capable of murder.
Well, what is the muddy story with this classmate of the customs officer, whom the customs officer was going to throw and sent to Karp’s case? A classmate was supposed to come, did not come, disappeared somewhere, then he was arrested somewhere, after which a strange line of this policeman followed, who, as if sticking, follows the customs officer.
Jipuragirado japgo sipeun jimseungdeul / Beasts Clawing at Straws movie meaning
Directed by: Kim Yong-hoon Cast: Jung Do-young, Jung Woo-sung, Bae Sung-woo, Yoon Yeo-jung, Jung Man-shik, Jin Kyung, Shin Hyun-bin, Jung Ga-ram, Park Chi- hwang, kim jun-han
Crime thriller, South Korea, 2020, 108 min.