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Fantasia 2018 Review: “The Outlaws” (2018) ★★★★★


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How often do we hear about police brutality? When we turn on the TV, there’s always some kind of news circulating about how one police officer or another was brutal during an arrest. My intention here is not to support police brutality, but perhaps allow one thought to cross our minds – What if that level of toughness is the only thing allowing them to clean up the streets from people that are not out there to do good things? “The Outlaws” is a film that will make anyone sick. But what’s been captured there is a true story with the real names altered. The story of police officers from South Korea who, if not for their aggressiveness, probably wouldn’t have been able to capture a dangerous man.

Based on true events, the film captures the chronicle of events that lead to the largest arrest, to be precise 30 gangsters in 2014, by the Geumcheon Serious Crime Unit in Seoul. As the local gangs in Chinatown try to keep their control over their designated areas, Ma Suk-Do, a detective in Chinatown wants to keep peace no matter how hard it is. However, things turns ugly when China’s most wanted criminal, Jang Chen, comes to Seoul to collect money. While the two largest gangs are fighting over their turf, Jang Chen makes a bold move to take over everything.

Ma Suk-Do’s methods are tough and would be treated illegal in a western world. However, he is also a great peace negotiator who keeps The Venom and Isu gang group from killing each other. Even during the fight, a detective jumps in between to settle the dispute and send everyone home safe and sound. Jang Chen, on the other hand, is not as nice as Ma Suk-Do. In order to collect debt, his way of dealing with his task is beyond brutal when he is personally willing to even dismember bodies because he thinks he can do so and get away with it. Backed by his bloodthirsty henchmen Wei Sung-Rak and Yang-Tae, the trio continue their bloody quest to ensure whoever hears their name will be shaken to the core and give up before they even start a fight against them. However, Ma Suk-Do is not that type of a person and is willing to go as far as possible in order to catch every single gang member, including Jang Chen…

Co-written by Kang Yoon-Sung and Lee Seok-Geun, “The Outlaws” covers the true “Heuksapa Incident” in 2007. Director Kang Yoon-Sung is uncompromising when it comes to capturing the scenes where Jang Chen begins killing everyone with his axe. All that bloodshed you see in the film is a necessary move by the director in order to have us feel the horror the people in Chinatown of Seoul felt back then. Ma Dong-Seok as Ma Suk-Do, Yoon Kye-Sang as Jang Chen, Jo Jae-Yun as Boss Hwang Choon-Sik, Choi Gwi-Hwa as captain Jeon, Park Ji-Hwan as Chang Yi-Soo all deliver absolutely remarkable performances. By looking at them, every single movie lover would like to see more crime thrillers starring each and every one of them. If what they did with their task is not pure perfection, then I am not sure how else it could be defined.

In conclusion, “The Outlaws” is grim, gruesome and not for the faint-hearted. Certain scenes are not that easy to digest, if someone has enough courage to watch them with their eyes open. But it’s a perfect film for anyone who likes an adrenaline charged, dynamic crime films that never loses its right pace. And having it made based on true events helps the viewer to see the police work from a different perspective and somehow never judge them for their way of fulfilling their duties. Because being gentle, kind and careful is not part of their job description when it comes to dealing with someone like Jang-Chen or creating for us safer streets to walk along with our families….

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