"I liked "Beat", but I have spoiled myself with films like Kwak Kyung-Taek's similar themed Friend"

- Mighty Peking Man

Beat (1997)

Director: Kim Sung-su

Producer: Cha Seung-Jae

Cast: Jeong Wu-Seong, Ko So-Young, Yoo Oh-Seong, Chang Jung Lim

Running Time: 113 min.

Plot: Three teenagers grow up together, and end up going their separate ways. One is a "natural-born fighter", one wants to follow the straight and narrow and make an honest living, and one aspires to be a triad head. Will their dreams come true? And if so, will their dreams destroy them?

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MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Do I wanna be a gangster or should I continue school, get well-educated and live a normal, working-class life?

I think I wanna be a gangster.

Why take years of college and get a degree that's not guaranteed to get you the job you want, for the salary you want. When you finally do a get a job, the education loans come fast and you realize that you're in debt and working for the first few years, or more, just to pay them off. Of course, some get lucky and it all works out great - where you get out of school and have a high paying job and rid your debts with no problem. And then there's rich kids, but that's a different story.

The fact is, higher learning works for some, no doubt. But for others, it doesn't. It's taking a chance and if that's taking a chance, why not really take a chance and live like a king in the world of gangsterism?

Sure, it's not the healthiest thing, you may not be that successful, but at least you live fast, experience exciting and new things. Things like slitting throats, beating someone's loved one to near death, collecting protection money from poor Numskull's noodle stand, screwing high priced karaoke whores and driving expensive foreign cars that are all paid for. They might not be under your name, but they're paid for. Let's face it, if you buy a BMW (or almost ANY new car for the matter) in this day and age, you'll end up spending the rest of your life paying it off for over $500-$800 a month - and that's practically for a lifetime since you'll probably lease it and get another one once the contract expires. If you're a gangster, all you'd have to do is get a little blood on your hand or face, and maybe a little bone and flesh (depending on what kind of weaponry you use). Pick a car, pick a chick, pick a house, pick any place you wanna visit. It's all up to you, cuz the world is yours.

"MPM, I wanna be a gangster, but what if I get caught breaking the law?"

If you get caught, you do your time and get an ass-poundin'. It'll hurt, your ass will bleed, but when you get out, and as long as you didn't rat out your boss or partners in crime, you just might move up in the gangster-ranks. Outside the prison gates, there are some great things awaiting you: your happy boss, a nifty cash bonus and a BMW Z4 roadster. Also, another job is in the works ready for you to take. Sooner or later, you'll be at the top of your game. It's a dangerous life, but it's a "life".

Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

Okay, reality has just kicked in. Sure I'd love the idea of being a gangster, but crime is bad and terrible things come along with it. It may look cool and luxurious on the screen, but unfortunately, movies make this stuff look too fascinating. Not that gangsters portrayed in films have happy endings towards the end of the show, but I bet you a million bucks that everyone that reads this review idolized an on-screen gangster at some point of their movie-watching life. For instance, Alexander, that "doll playing" teacher who writes reviews on this site, idolizes every inch of Lau Ching Wan in Johnny To's "A Hero Never Dies". And The gZa, that UK-bastard, also a regular of this site, thinks Pat Johnson's character in "Enter the dragon" ("'s the dough roper or we gotta break something!") is the absolute maximum of the words "bad-ass mutherfucka" (in a sorry British accent). As for me, Henry Hill from "Goodfellas" seemed to have the life (at least the good part of this life) that I wanted to have. Afterall, he's still around to tell the story.

Director Kim Sung-su ("Musa"), must've felt the same way about gangster-idols when he made "Beat", a story involving a few hoods who lived fast and suffered the consequences of their violent, crime-filled lifestyle. It stars Jeong Wu-Seong ("Musa"), Yoo Oh-Sung ("Friend") and the beautiful Go So-Yeong ("Love Wind, Love Song"). Since seeing Yoo Oh-Sung perform in "Friend" and "Attack the Gas Station", I've developed a certain respect for his acting abilities. I can see why they keep casting this guy as the no-nonsense tough guy who follows the world of crime - the guy is intense. But all of them play their roles excellent, as expected. The characters are likeable, believable and go through things that we can relate to: sex, school stress, depression, death and the opportunity to choose right or wrong paths. The film makes it a point to show the audience that these characters had a choice in life.

I wouldn't exactly place "Beat" on my list of the top-10 gangster flicks of all time, but it's certainly a well-made film with excellent pacing, fantastic story-telling, and as already mentioned, great performances by the cast. A guitar-rockin' soundtrack would seem very unlikely for a stylish gangster film of this kind, but for whatever reason, it goes great with the visuals. I also like the fact that the film's plot not only centers around the guys', but also has some moments with it's female character as well.

One of the main problems I had with "Beat" was with all the pointless Wong Kar-Wai shit. I'm talking about that slow-motion, frame-skipping nonsense that's used way too much in the wrong areas. In fact, it ruins the overall film from something that could have been "great" to just "good". This isn't nit-picking either, it REALLY did bother me.

I liked "Beat", but I have spoiled myself with films like Kwak Kyung-Taek's similar themed "Friend", which I watched first and several times before I watched this. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this review, even though 70% of it was me nagging about how I wanted to be a gangster - it was all in fun. Or maybe I did it on purpose since "Beat" was one of those neutral movies that's hard to review since there was nothing too sucky about it, nor was there anything to really rave about. It was just there and it was just "good".

MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 7.5/10 (this would have easily been a 8/10 if it weren't for the WKW slo-mo shit)