Bloody Ties DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Tartan Films
Written and directed by Choi Ho
2006, Region 1, 116 minutes, Not rated
DVD Released February 20th 2006
Ryoo Seung-beom as Sang-do
Hwang Jeong-min as Lieutenant Doh
Lee Do-gyung as Jang Cheol
Choo Ja-hyun as Ji-young
Lieutenant Doh (Hwang Jeong-min) is a police officer who uses questionable methods to bust drug dealers in the city of Busan.
When his partner is killed by the biggest crime lord in the city, Jang Cheol, Doh becomes obsessed with bringing the boss to justice — no matter what the cost. And it certainly doesn't help matters that Cheol has run off to China.
So Doh recruits Sang-do (Ryoo Seung-beom), the No. 1 drug dealer in Busan (and No. 1 snitch) to help him bust Cheol's second-in-command.
But things go wrong. Cheol's man dies during the bust, Sang-do goes to the pokey and Doh gets into some serious trouble with the new D.A. Everyone lost something that fateful day.
Eight months later, Sang-do is released from prison, only to find he no longer has a territory. There's a new player in town and he works for, you got it, Cheol. Who is also back from China.
So, once again, Sang-do is forced to join forces with Doh to bring Cheol down. Hopefully, without the same results as before.
From the outset, it appears director Choi Ho was influenced by the cop films of the '70s. With Bloody Ties' ultra violence, a few paneling shots (think DePalma) and funkalicious soundtrack, Ties seems to pay homage without being cheesy.
The acting is solid across the board, with Sang-do's maybe/maybe not heroin addict girlfriend, Ji-young (Choo Ja-hyun) being exceptional. She conveys a character who is both strong and weak — sometimes at the same time. Sadly, though, her character is not an important one, so I did not get to see her as often as I wished.
But nods go to Hwang Jeong-min and Ryoo Seung-beom, too, as Doh and Sang-do (respectively). Jeong-min made his cop character unlikable, while Seung-beom made his drug-dealing character likable. This is incredibly important to the film because of some of the plot points that come to surface, and the two's portrayal of their characters really helped these developments.
It's important to note that this isn't a typical "bad cop versus drug dealer trying to go good." Doh's motivations are understandable. He's a cop pushed over the edge. It's just his actions are somewhat slimy. You can get what he's trying to do, but it's just not the right way. In addition, you know Sang-do isn't going to go clean. He's a businessman, and drugs are his trade. But both men were put in their positions due to circumstance, and they are what they are.
Ties is really enjoyable. It's gritty, it's ugly and sometimes it's nasty. But at a running time just under two hours, it's also a little drawn out. And, sadly, the half hour it could lose is the entire subplot with Sang-do and Ji-young. While there is a pivotal scene between the two that shows Sang-do's true nature, the subplot doesn't add much to the movie, and nothing too critical would be lost if it were cut. And a tighter story would be gained.
But, even with its tad-too-long running time, Ties is a fun flick with smashed faces, sex, sordid language and cigarettes. Yeah, "fuck" is used almost as often as "the," and almost always with a smoke in hand.
Video and Audio:
Ties' anamorphic presentation is rock solid. Much of the film takes place at night, and the blacks are deep, without any noticeable bleeding.
The Korean DTS track, however, is surprisingly light. I'm used to plenty of rear and side speaker usage from Tartan, especially from its "Tartan Asia Extreme" discs. But, in this case, most of the audio seems driven from the front — which is a little sad, as the film has a lot of action that could have utilized the rest of the speakers.
Korean 5.1 and 2.0 are also available, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.
- The Making of Bloody Ties
- Original Trailer
- Tartan Asia Extreme New Releases
There are surprisingly few special features on the disc. Yes, I set the bar higher for Tartan than other companies, as they have spoiled me with their previous "Asia Extreme" releases.
Fortunately, the making-of featurette (which runs about 15 minutes) is pretty interesting. Consisting entirely of an interview with Sangman Kim (director of sound and visual effects), he discusses a few aspects of the film, from the music to the wardrobe of the characters. I was surprised to learn the director originally did not like the choice of the funk soundtrack. I'm happy he left it, as it really adds more to the film than a traditional soundtrack would. Watching this feature made me wish for a score only track, as watching some of the clips in the featurette without dialogue really emphasised how well the score fit the film.
In addition to the Bloody Ties trailer, there are trailers for Divergence, Lady Vengeance, Another Public Enemy, H and Heroic Duo.
Bloody Ties is a super-violent thriller that explores the seedy underside of drug dealers and cops. Its plot is nothing you haven't seen before, but it does have performances that will keep you watching, a soundtrack that will keep you grooving and an ending that you don't see coming. Definitely worth a rental.