Today at Fantasia

Our critics tackle tales of Korean vengeance, American cults & Japanese depravity.

Ingtoogi: The Battle of Internet Trolls
The following films are screening as part of the Fantasia Film Festival, on through Aug. 6.

Ingtoogi: The Battle of Internet Trolls

If there’s one trope that’s been overdone in films, it’s the underdog standing up for himself. It’s particularly prevalent in the martial arts genre, and although Ingtoogi: The Battle of Internet Trolls takes much the same path, it offers a breath of fresh air in the process.

Set in modern South Korea, Ingtoogi begins as a young man named Tae-sik AKA Koolkidneyz (Um Tae-goo) is ambushed, beat up and humiliated on camera by a bully calling himself Manboobs. Traumatized by the event and the shame associated with having it broadcast online, the shy adolescent seeks his revenge and sets out to find out about the mysterious Internet troll. He eventually discovers the mixed martial arts gym where his tormentor used to train and makes new friends who will help him through this ordeal.

Any similar film could’ve given up at this point and used the old formula where the protagonist goes through a training montage and fails through his first attempts at revenge followed by a revelation and a positive ending. Thankfully, Ingtoogi takes another path. A training montage is included and a final showdown closes the story, but not in the traditional sense. Without giving too much away, it could be said that this film is about the motivation of the characters to take up martial arts and to learn to face their fears rather than about the martial arts themselves.

Ingtoogi does not offer flashy fight scenes or the gritty, gut-wrenching violence seen in movies like Oldboy. Instead, it offers an intelligent look at the dominance of Internet culture in South Korea, the phenomenon of bullying and, ultimately, the futility of revenge. (Emmanuel Delacour)

Ingtoogi: The Battle of Internet Trolls screens tonight, Thursday, July 24, 7 p.m.


Sometimes the best thing a movie can do is to make you forget you’re watching a movie. Riley Stearns’ debut film Faults is (at least on paper) fairly narratively conventional. In hindsight, the places it goes are really the places you would assume it would go. Yet Stearns is so assured in his direction and his cast is so solid that it’s entirely engrossing from start to finish – a kind of sleeper that creeps into your subconscious and stays there, ready to fuck with you years down the line.

Ansel Roth (Leland Orser) is an expert in cults and particularly in “deprogramming” cult members. Having fallen on hard times after a rough divorce and a controversial case that went south, he’s reduced to peddling his (allegedly shitty and unnecessary) book in hotel conference rooms to a handful of bored fans. After one of these, he’s approached by a kindly middle-aged couple (Chris Ellis and Beth Grant) who ask for his help to save their daughter Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) from the clutches of a cult. Roth is soon holed up in a hotel room with the reticent Claire, desperately going through every trick in the book to crack her and return her to her parents.

Essentially a two-fister set in one room, Faults could easily have felt stage-bound and constrained by its rather limited surroundings. The amount of low-budget debuts like this one that simply devolve into talky nonsense is nearly infinite, but Stearns has three valuable assets: a cracking sense of dark humour that runs throughout, Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Orser (a character actor so character-y that you’ve seen him a million times but would never place his face — maybe you know him as one of Liam Neeson’s ass-kickin’ buds in the Taken movies or as the horrified perpetrator of the Lust sin in Se7en) is a revelation here, a magnetic tragicomic figure both pathetic and powerful. He’s matched every step of the way by Winstead, who pulls off a nigh-impossible role with conviction.

There isn’t much in the way of tricks and artifice to Faults; Stearns’ direction is measured and unobtrusive, at times recalling the almost absurdly disaffected style of Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps). It’s not a film that impresses with extremes, pyrotechnics or decapitations, but it’s a very solid debut. (Alex Rose)

Faults screens tonight, Thursday, July 24, 7:15 p.m.

Gun Woman

Mixing the styles of classic kung-fu flicks with a tone that borrows directly from ’80s B-movies, Gun Woman is an explosion of depravity, gore and sex.

The movie opens up with two hit-men making their way to Las Vegas. During their long car trip, they discuss the most gruesome hit they’ve heard about, the Gun Woman case.
 The two killers quickly reveal themselves the narrators of the main story, involving a rich Japanese expatriate with necrophiliac tendencies and the doctor who wants revenge against him, a man simply known as the Mastermind. Crippled by his new arch enemy, this bloodthirsty character “buys” a young junkie named Mayumi (Asami) and proceeds to cure her of her addiction and train her in the martial arts and gunfighting. The Mastermind wants to create a killing machine capable of infiltrating an ultra-secret necrophiliac club in the middle of a nuclear waste disposal facility. The plan is bold and certain not to leave Mayumi unscathed.

The structure of the script, going back and forth between the beautiful assassin and the two narrators is reminiscent of the style of infamous director Godfrey Ho, who often spliced separate films together to create new plots. Thankfully, the action, shocking scenes and humorous self-parody keep the viewer entertained enough to overlook the flaws. The actress simply known as Asami provides a genuine tour de force in Gun Woman by creating a smart and sensible character without delivering a single line of dialogue throughout the entire movie and by fighting her way through the bad guys’ lair completely naked for a solid half-hour. 
Gun Woman doesn’t provide a particularly solid script but if the idea of an hour and a half of fun ultra-violence topped with gallons of blood seems appealing, then this one’s for you. (Emmanuel Delacour)

Gun Woman screens tonight, Thursday July 24, 9:45 p.m.
Fantasia tickets can be purchased at Concordia’s Hall building (1455 de Maisonneuve W.) for $10 each, or online ($11 each), here.