Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:09 pm 
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Money is a deliciously fresh, and a little raw, depiction of fast and shifty stock brokering and white collar high crimes and misdemeanors from Korea. Director Park Noo-ri has made a stunning feature debut, and Ryu Jeon-yeol's electric, nimble performance in the lead shows why he's a rising star.

As a new take on Oliver Stone's Wall Street from Korea, this movie ramps up the action to physical and high crime in the second half. While close to the Wall Street trajectory, its glossy big spender trappings make one think more of Scorsese's later The Wolf of. . . But everything is updated further here, and a smoothness with the latest technology. Money is already attracting interest in various quarters. There is a lengthy-ish piece on it in Cinema Escapist.

When fledgling broker Cho Il-hyun (Ryu Jun-yeol) comes to work selling stocks at Yeouido, Seoul's financial district, they call him Raspberry because his parents have a raspberry farm. He's fresh, energetic, and ready but very green. The early tipping point comes when Choi can't understand a rapidly mumbled phone order - but won't admit it - and, guessing wrong, loses a client fifty thousand dollars by buying when he was supposed to sell. This draws the attention of devious and shadowy fund manager Ticket (Yoo Ji-tae, Oldboy) who starts feeding him illicit insider deals using thumb drives that he throws in the river when the lucrative deal is done. His first such deal is a $50 million trade that nets Cho $1.4 million, instantly delivering him a whole new lifestyle and a whole new outlook. He ditches his old girlfriend for Park Si-eun (Won Jin-ah), a slick babe who's a fellow broker and introduces him to bespoke suits and other posh accoutrements. Cho steps forward from another young, handsome broker who's to the manner born, but isn't doing so much himself.

Cho is being tracked by an insidious and persistent investigator at Korea’s securities regulator - the sticky, troublesome Han Ji-chul (Jo Woo-jin), who repeatedly feeds Cho photos of himself in compromising situations, seemingf as much blackmailer as a law officer. Ticket urges Cho to act confident and says Han's creepy sub rosa snooping only shows his organization hasn't got a solid case.

As Richard Yu points out in his discussion of Money in the new global (and Asian-focused) online review Cinema Escapist, Cho hasn't the heft or even the interest as a character of the now iconic Gordon "Greed is good" Gekko memorably played by Michael Douglas. For all his energy, Cho seems barely more than a schoolboy compared to some of the brawny, driven financial manipulators in American Wall Street movies.

But we must bear in mind that Money is conceived throughout more as a slow-burn crime thriller, and, as Yu acknowledges, is still ultimately thrilling and fun to watch, without the big speeches or hefty characters but with good actors, a nifty script, and an elegant score.

At the public screening there will be a Q&A with director Park Noo-ri and lead actor Ryu Jun-yeol, and the latter will receive the Screen International Rising Star Asia Award.

Money 돈 (Don), 115 mins., released in South Korea and the US in March 2019. Also released in Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong. Screened for this review as part of the NYAFF. Billed as the New York Premiere, but according to an online review in J.B. Spins, it opened in Queens and New Jersey May 29.
NYAFF showtime:
July 6
6:00 PM

This will become available on streaming in the Us via Amazon Prime or Netflix in future.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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