Even more Fantasia reviews

Hollywood-style action from Korea & hand-to-hand combat and incomprehensible high school politics from Japan, screening tonight at Fantasia.

The Suspect
The following films are screening as part of the Fantasia Film Festival, on through Aug. 6.

The Suspect

Korean director Won Shin-yeon seems to have learned a thing or two from Hollywood with this super-stylish, Bourne-inspired political thriller that subtly explores the relationship between North and South through a slightly flimsy plot involving spies and a lot of running around.

Ripped-as-fuck Korean stud Gong Yoo plays Ji Dong-Chul, a former North Korean super spy who defected to the South after he was abandoned mid-mission and his wife and child subsequently murdered by fellow super spies for reasons unknown (and unexplained, but whatever). He now splits his time between finding his family’s murderer and driving around some kind of executive with ties to the North — a fact suggested by the giant poster of Kim Jong-il that adorns his house. When Yoo is framed for the former’s murder after receiving a mysterious pair of glasses, he sets out on an adrenaline-fuelled, punch-crazed quest for the truth, with the help of a babe who spends most of the film yelling. You know, the usual, but set in Korea.

Stretching out at two hours, it gets a bit long in the end, considering how silly (and wholesome!) the big reveal is. But if you’re a fan of fast-paced crime thrillers, all the elements are here to keep you entertained: hardcore mountain spy training montage, long city-destroying car chases, greedy crooked government officials and the investigative super-team of a hardened, chain-smoking colonel partnered with a gum-chewing bumbling idiot. Ignore the many plot holes and enjoy the ride, all the way to its cheesy finale. (Roxane Hudon)

The Suspect screens tonight, Sunday, July 20, 9:45 p.m.
Crows Explode

Crows Explode

The third film in a series that functions as a prequel to a long-running manga series, Crows Explode is a frequently undecipherable but undeniably dynamic action film. Set a month after the previous installment (directed by Takashi Miike) but featuring an all-new cast, Crows Explode continues with the story of the students of Suzuran All-Boys School, a dubious establishment of higher learning whose students are more concerned with wailing on each other than ever going to class.

Kaburagi Kazeo (Masahiro Higashide) is a recent transfer to Suzuran who has an aversion to fighting but an undeniable natural talent. He’s nevertheless of interest to the hierarchy of Suzuran, who want to integrate him into the never-ending series of brawls that defines the social strata of Suzuran.

Mostly devoid of context, Crows Explode is a solid 130 minutes of hand-to-hand combat and incomprehensible high school politics. Fans of the first installments are likely to find more to appreciate in its never-ending onslaught of kicks and punches than novices, for whom the frequently baffling high-school politics are more likely to come across as fluff between vicious action scenes. 40-year-olds with Bon Jovi haircuts pretending to be teenagers while they wail on each other in abandoned buildings is satisfying for anyone, but the scenes where they have to make you care for the story and the deeply personal reasons why they fight (it’s always vengeance, FYI) are of little interest to anyone not already invested in the on-going hijinks of Suzuran All-Boys School.

Director Tokiashi Toyoda fills in for the prolific, intense Takashi Miike quite well and keeps things bone-snapping and , but the fact remains that Crows Explode is more of an episode in an ongoing series than a satisfying stand-alone experience. (Alex Rose)

Crows Explode screens tonight, Sunday, July 20, 7:05 p.m.
Fantasia tickets can be purchased at Concordia’s Hall building (1455 de Maisonneuve W.) for $10 each, or online ($11 each), here.