Beasts Clawing at Straws Review By Jamie Matthew MacDonald

A modern noir thriller that twists it’s way to the fateful finale

Working as a cleaner at a sauna Jung- Man (Bae Sung-Woo) scraps together a living to take care of his sick mother, with everyday financial pressures weighing him down. So, when a customer leaves a bag full of money in a locker, Jung-Man decides to takes it; he will do anything to hold onto that bag. After all his daughter`s school tuition fees are due, plus this money will help him to reopen his father`s shop. Tae-Young (Jung Woo-Sung) is in trouble with a loan shark after his girlfriend runs away with the money he borrowed. Mi-Ran (Shin Hyun-Bin) is in a loveless marriage and works as a hostess at a bar. With her husband’s violence escalating towards her, she finds herself and young lover Jin Tae (Jung Ga-Ram) who agrees to kill her husband. All three lives will cross as their destiny comes knocking. They will be all clawing at straws to hold onto the money and their lives.

From first time writer director Kim Yong-Hoon this is quite the debut. Gathering an impressive cast all round with three main leads giving very strong performances. Beasts Clawing at Straws is an impressive Korean Noir filled with the darkest of humour. You may think it`s nothing new but what sets this apart, is the excellent twisted way the tale is told with the added humour along the way. Also it is well structured into chapters – which doesn't always work well, but does here and didn't make me lose interest, no it had quite the opposite effect and gripped me more while watching it. The reason for this is the writing, the script plus the direction from it`s hard to believe a first time writer and director. That is quite something and makes this film a must see, I'd say. Let's talk about the cast now, the three leads above are impressive in their roles. For me Jung Woo-Sung (The Good, The Bad and The Weird) gives one of standout performances of the film. He is involved with one of my favourite scenes in the film, The dinner scene and drinks in his apartment with the cop Myung Gu (Yoon JE-Moon) also from The Good, the Bad and the Weird,  The host and many others. The way the two actors bounce off each other is just an amazing battle of words to watch. As I've said all the cast are great and there is not one bad performance here. I'd like to mention another actor that I think stood out. Jeon Do-Yeon who plays Yeon-Hee, she gives an outstanding performance and steals every scene she is in with a screen presence to rival most. There are the odd violent scenes; these are when the loan shark DU-Man is around menacingly played by Jeong Man-Sik. Mainly it is a film of strong dialogue and masterfully directed exchanges of dialogue from the actors.

A modern noir thriller that twists it's way to the fateful finale with so much dark humor along the way. You`ll be laughing and then turning away at the violence. I think Kim Yong-Hoon has watched as lot of Guy Ritchie films and Quentin Tarantino before writing the film. There is nothing wrong with that, as he certainly makes it his own with Beasts Clawing At Straws. What an amazing feature debut as a writer and director it is. Seek it out now…

Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Beasts Clawing At Straws on Curzon HomeCinema 6 August and on Digital Download 23 August

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