Before you shout me down or perhaps shout the title of this article down, this IS the official release in the UK of this film.
Yes, it may have had a one-off screening / Premiere back in December 2020 but that was not a “Release” of the film. In fact, some would argue that it was perhaps a bad idea to go ahead with a certain festival back then, ‘SMACK-BANG’ in the middle of a pandemic – but, between you and I, that particular festival has had a few not so good ideas over the last few years.
[If you want to give MMM’s little overview or mini-review a miss then skip past it, past the little Intermission too and to later in the article…]
BEASTS CLAWING AT STRAWS
– MINI [MINI] REVIEW / OVERVIEW:
What we at MMM will say though is that “smack-bang” is a good way to describe this film!
Firstly, like so many Korean films – and probably the reason many of us love them – it moves between genres throughout, in a “Hey viewers, you thought I was a thriller type of film…? Well, here is some comedy… no, wait, a touch of horror…” SMACK-BANG kind of way. In fact, those two adjoined words could describe any violence which is witnessed in this movie.
Now, yes, many people already think of Korean films as violent but there are so, so, so, so many which are NOT like that. Often when a K-film does contain violence anyway, it’s only a small part of the bigger ‘picture’. *
One thing regarding violence and some certain modern Korean films is the use of guns – yep, I’ve gone into a little detail before about this, and the irony considering South Korea’s gun laws or zero tolerance on such weapons. Well, I’m happy to say that in this movie there are no guns… or at least very few such scenes, if any… Forgive my memory!
We at MMM feel sometimes that not only are some Korean films becoming too ‘Hollywood-y’, they seem to favour the pistol on many an occasion. Really? Do you have to?! That’s not what you’re about, KOREA!
I’m also happy to say that this film has a great line-up of good actors, and MORE than happy to see Ms Jeon Do-yeon in it and playing such an interesting character, and especially different from other ones she has played. It’s far from the real-life Do-yeon too, I can tell you [yes, this writer has met her before, in Busan… That really made my day, or night!]
Indeed, this role is quite outlandish and daring and not in “The Housemaid” (dir. Im Sang-soo) kind of way. She never fails to amaze me or MMM. In fact, her previous 2 roles, in cinematic films at least (she also stars in Korean TV dramas, as do many other South Korean film actors), couldn’t have been so different – “Birthday” & “Ashfall“.
Mr Jung Woo-sung is also well-cast, or cast against type – in our opinion – by playing his character in such a comedic way. Perhaps this is no real surprise considering his acting abilities though.
It’s certainly a film OF surprises too, with twists and turns which keep you guessing and tuned-in as well as twisting time for the sake of a clever narrative.
Of course, no review or mini-review, or mini-mini-review of a film starring Youn Yuh-jung can be written or read without a mention of her and her acting… And even more meaningful these days, especially since her OSCAR win for “Minari”. Her role is even smaller than that of the latter mentioned role, but still very good and quite integral to the whole story.
I could also see this be played out as a Japanese film and that’s probably no surprise – This movie by Kim Yong-hoon is, after all, based on a novel by Keisuke Sone.
One last bit of info or maybe fun fact/s – and seeing as it’s a little long to include with the English title of this article – here is the Korean title: “지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들“ (Revised Romanisation: Jipuragirado Jabgo Sipeun Jibseungdeul) and indeed the Japanese title: “藁にもすがる獣たち” (Wara ni mo sugaru kemonotachi)
Now, if that small review wasn’t juicy enough for you, let’s hope that the following information regarding the film is… Yes, it’s essentially details from the official Press Release.
But FIRST, an ad break, or perhaps more apt, an…
* Paul Quinn aka Hangul Celluloid has a very interesting talk coming up and it’s a day after “Beasts Clawing At Straws” becomes available as a Digital Download [see below for more details on the latter].
What is our fellow London Asian Film Society co-founder Mr Q’s talk all about? Well, funnily enough, it touches quite heavily on what MMM wrote about in one of the early parts of this article.
But to elaborate, here are some words from the FREE event’s eventbrite Page:
“Korean movie expert Paul Quinn takes refreshing look at the post-2000 movies that weren’t part of the “Asia Extreme” mainstream.”
“Korean movie critic and podcaster Paul Quinn argues that some of those quirky, genre-bending movies can tell you more about Korean culture and society than a stereotypical blood-drenched revenge thriller.”
Many more words and a good description can be found in the aforementioned event link – but for more information and evidence of Mr Quinn’s vast knowledge, please feel free to check out his site, HangulCelluloid.com.
BACK ON WITH THE SHOW…
FURTHER INFORMATION / PRESS RELEASE:
(THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD)
BEASTS CLAWING AT STRAWS
‘A DARKLY HUMOROUS CRIME CAPER’ – SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
‘NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN MEETS PULP FICTION’ – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Dark and wickedly entertaining, Beasts Clawing at Straws finds a variety of low-lives trying to outwit each other as they scheme, lie and murder to make money and savetheir own skin in a crime caper led by some of Korea’s finest stars including JungWoo-sung (The Good the Bad and the Weird), Jeon Do-yeon (Secret Sunshine) and 2021 Academy Award® Winner Youn Yuh-jung (Minari).
Downtrodden Joong-man barely gets by working at a sauna and taking care of his sick mother until he finds a bag full of cash in the locker room which offers him a shot at a better life. Conniving Tae-young is in deep with a psychotic loan shark after his girlfriend runs off with the money he borrowed. Cunning Mi-ran is caught between her violent husband and a dead-end job in a seedy hosted club, until she finds a young lover who’s willing to kill for her…
The destinies of these hard-luck grifters and troubled souls slowly converge as they scheme their way towards striking it rich or saving their necks. Without any of them realising it, a dog-eat-dog game has begun.
Winner of the prestigious ‘Tiger Award’ at International Film Festival Rotterdam, the directorial debut of Yong Hoon-Kim is a deliciously twisted black comedy that’s packed withsurprises and features a top cast of Korean talent including Jung Woo-sung (Steel Rain, Asura), Jeon Do-yeon (The Housemaid), Bae Sung-woo (Veteran), Jeong Man-sik (The Tiger), and 2021 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award® Winner Youn Yuh-jung (Minari).
Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Beasts Clawing At Straws.
[Just released on Curzon Home Cinema and on Digital Download from 23th August]”