NYAFF 2017 Review: Fabricated City (South Korea 2017)

So, so, so dumb but so, so, so fun. Fabricated City starts off with our lead, disaffected loner Kwon Ju (Ji Chang-wook) going into battle in a multi-player war game with his team of random internet gaming geeks, performing crazy Matrix-style stunts and showing why he is the best. What’s nuts is that the movie gets even more unrealistic when it transitions to the real world, to the point where I spent the entire film expecting a last-minute twist revealing that Kwon Ju was still playing a game.

After answering a seemingly random call late one night after a gaming session, Kwon Ju is framed for murder and has to rely on his team to help him defeat an increasingly elaborate and well-connected conspiracy. And when I say elaborate, I mean elaborate. The antagonist (whose identity I won’t spoil but whom savvy audiences will peg from a mile away) is a hilariously mustache-twirling supervillain straight out of a comic book, with a high-tech secret lair. He can muster what seem to be near unlimited resources, including a vast organization and an army of goons, along with near perfect control of the media and law enforcement.

Fabricated City is gamer wish fulfillment to the nth degree. Does one of the team turn out to be a beautiful girl who just happens to be a world class hacker crushing on our hero? Yes! Does the hero turn out to be capable of performing stunts even more elaborate in real life than in his game? Of course (I’m sorry, being good at tae kwon do does not make you a professional grade driver)! Hell, at one point, with no set up at all, the hero basically turns into Daredevil.

The premise is just within the bounds of realism, but the execution … whoa nelly. Fabricated City hits Face/Off, Con Air levels of ridiculousness – par for the course for director Park Kwang-hyun, who last directed the similarly over-the-top Korean War fable Welcome to Dongmakgol. If you can turn off your brain for two hours, you’ll enjoy this.

2 1/2 out of 4 stars (Good). Fabricated City is playing as part of the New York Asian Film Festival on July 15.


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