Asura: The City of Madness (2016)

Directed by
Grimy and bleak
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-03-22

Given that Kim Sung-Su's Musa is one of my all-time favourite films I don't know why it's taken me so long to catch up with the rest of his work... well, because his next film was the bland romcom PLEASE TEACH ME ENGLISH and then he didn't make another for 10 years, I guess.

ASURA is no MUSA, having more in common with Kim Jee-Woon's A Bittersweet Life - which at least means it isn't a romcom. It's an uncompromisingly bleak, brutal tale of corruption and crime and the hopelessness that comes with living such a life, the narrowing of options once you compromise your integrity.

It's not a story to warm your heart, the only thing resembling hope in store for the characters is the option to say "fuck you I won't do this anymore", which isn't the fairy tale ending many of us dream of.

Still, cinema doesn't always have to pander to our fantasies. I'm left wondering what Kim Sung-Su wants me to take away from the experience though. Maybe I'm supposed to feel relieved that this isn't my life... but I'm pretty sure relief doesn't feel this grimy.