A scene from THE TOWER, directed by Kim Ji-hoon for CJ Entertainment.

The Tower (2012, Kim Ji-hoon)

With The Tower, director Kim redefines the possibilities of the fictional disaster genre. He maintains many genre standards, like the occasional laugh to relieve stress, a fair amount of melodrama, along with the greedy capitalists and the politicking city officials, while throwing in some gore and a breakneck action movie pace. But he mixes in all of these ingredients seriously and finds some truly wonderful and awful human moments. Often at the same time.

The first thirty minutes of The Tower play like a modern remake of The Towering Inferno, at least the events regarding the building. There’s a single dad (Kim Sang-kyung) who has the hots for one of his coworkers (Son Ye-jin), there’s a rookie firefighter (Do Ji-han) and his captain (Sol Kyung-gu), there are a bunch of other people. Disaster movie stock cast, often likable but no one is ever safe. Kim doesn’t allow any safe zones.

He directs his action scenes from the characters’ points of view; there’s a particularly rough incident during the initial disaster montage (The Tower, regardless of how well Kim does with it, is still a disaster movie after all) and then some more when the survivors are trying to escape. There’s not much bonding during the scenes, it’s all implied. The characters are too exhausted, too terrified to sit around and expound.

Great photography from Kim Young-Ho, great music from Kim Tae-seong. Sol Kyung-gu gives an amazing, essential performance.

The Tower ruined my day.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Kim Ji-hoon; written by Kim Sang-don; director of photography, Kim Young-ho; edited by Kim Jae-beom and Kim Sang-beom; music by Kim Tae-seong; production designer, Park Il-hyun; produced by Lee Han-seung and Lee Su-nam; released by CJ Entertainment.

Starring Sol Kyung-gu (Captain Kang), Kim Sang-kyung (Lee Dae-ho), Son Ye-jin (Seo Yoon-hee), Kim In-kwon (Sergeant Oh), Do Ji-han (Lee Seon-woo), Jo Min-ah (Lee Ha-na), Ahn Sung-ki (Yeouido Fire Station chief), Song Jae-ho (Mr. Yoon), Lee Joo-shil (Mrs. Jung), Lee Han-wi (Mr. Kim), Jeon Guk-hyang (Ae-ja), Jung In-ki (Mr. Cha), Cha In-pyo (Mr Jo), Jeon Bae-soo (Young-cheol), Kim Sung-oh (In-geon), Min Young (Nam-ok), Lee Joo-ha (Min-jung) and Kwon Tae-won (the fire commissioner).

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