A gangster has serious financial problems. He must provide for his family, and he must also provide for his minions. He’s desperate, and he will do anything to earn some money. One day he gets an offer he can’t say no to.
A Dirty Carnival is directed by Yoo Ha. He has made one of my favorite movies, Once Upon a Time In High School. It’s the best school movie from South Korea I have seen, and one of the best school movies of all time.
This time, Yoo Ha dips his feet in the gangster genre, and it’s a difficult genre. At the time A Dirty Carnival was released, South Korea made extremely many gangster movies. And most of the gangster movies were mediocre and nothing else. Most filmmakers didn’t put their whole hearts into their projects. And it ended up killing the genre before it came back to life several years later.
A Dirty Carnival stands out from the crowd. Okay, we’ve seen some of it before, but not so many times. We follow a gangster who is willing to do everything to get to the top. One day he meets an old classmate, and that meeting will change his life forever. The classmate is a movie director who wants to make a gangster movie, and the gangster helps him with that. He should never have done that!
A Dirty Carnival strongest point is a well-made and interesting story. This is where other gangster movies miss the mark with boring, unsympathetic characters. The protagonist appears to be somewhat sympathetic. You understand the choices he makes to support himself, his minions, and his family.
The movie has some incredible fight scenes. The fight scenes are realistic and brutal, such as the last and long fight scene in Once Upon a Time In High School. That’s the way it should be, and Yoo Ha is a master when he’s in the zone! The longest fight scene is long and wild. I sat in my chair with an enormous smile. I recognized this crazy energy from Once Upon a Time In High School! The energy is so high, and the fight, it’s so well choreographed!
The ending offers a surprise, and it certainly felt appropriate when you see the journey of the protagonist. A Dirty Carnival lasts a little too long with a runtime of around 140 minutes. Some scenes could have been trimmed down.
For those who like gangster movies, A Dirty Carnival is a quality movie with a good story and a good ending.