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    January 11, 2013


    Although not specified inside-out, “The Tower” is essentially a Korean adaptation/rip-off/remake of the American classic – “The Towering Inferno” (1974) which stars Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. Unfortunately, this Korean remake reflects the usual ‘first class set-up, second-class storyline’ all over. While the technicality aspect achieves a superior advancement, not the same can be said about the other important aspects of the movie (which will be discussed later). But given an intriguing yet familiar premise, it only takes Kim Ji-hoon, the director to propel this into a twirling corny movie. Fortunately, “The Tower” does not end up like the director’s last effort “Sector 7” which did so poorly.

    Genre: Action/Drama
    Classification: P13
    Release Date: 10 January 2013
    Running Time: 110 minutes
    Distributor: Ram Entertainment (from CJ Entertainment)
    Director: Kim Ji-hoon
    Screenplay: Kim Sang-don
    Starring: Sol Kyung-gu, Kim Sang-Kyung, Son Ye-jin

    Plot: Directed by Kim Ji-Hun from "May 18", Sol Kyung-gu, Son Ye-jin and Kim Sang-Kyung play a group of people who fight to survive a fire that occurs in a high rise building on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve a party is going on at Tower Sky for VIPs at the super-luxurious landmark building in Seoul. Part of the event involves helicopters circling above sprinkling snow to simulate snowing. As the party progresses, one of the helicopters crashes in the building and a fire broke out rapidly. Together the people trapped in the burning building must work together to save each other...

    The premise of “The Tower” is superlatively simple and straightforward; a Christmas Eve party on top of the 108-stories twin tower goes awry wrong when fire breaks out in one of the floor. During the preparation for the Christmas party, the building manager Dae-ho (Kim Sang-gyeong) informs the management about the water sprinkler system in the building is not working properly beyond 60th floor. Of course, the problem goes deafen as President Cho (Cha In-pyo) insists on addressing all the attention to the party that will further boost his reputation among élite socialites who will be present at the party. His arrogance and reckless planning cause a terrible accident and the fire spreads quickly around the higher floors, trapping many residents and chaos ensues.

    As been said, there are some aspects of this movie that does not amaze me. The first act is disappointing, filled up with unnecessary yet thin characterization and some corny dialogue exchanges, as if the writers just waiting for the ill-fated accident to come. Even when the movie does not spend so much time in introducing the related characters, the opening 30 minutes does serviceable job but to introduce characters that we do not really care. It is also deceptively portraying the mood with some unnecessary comical tones and overly reacted one-dimensional characters (especially and annoyingly the cook and his girlfriend, as well as the devout Christian). So far, up to this moment, it is more like a cliché romantic-comedy than not.

    It also comes to my attention that this movie is trying to emulate Hollywood template of disaster flick rather than establishing its own. This is a textbook movie that has every elements from any movies by Roland Emmerich – a romance story, an impossible escape makes possible, a generic businessman as a social villain and a stick in the mud script. While it emphasizes on melodrama as the end game, no attempts been made to establish a fine social conclusion for all the things that have happened. Instead, a repetitive motion of mixing the lackluster emotional melodrama and stronger action-packed sequence, could be a tiring experience.

    But with the arrival of the real pressing issue, the accident changes the mood entirely. A game changer it is, the audiences will definitely enjoy this more than the other segments. Fortunately, this action is passable. Some of the scenes are intense, gripping and emotional – particularly the sky bridge and the gushing-down-the-elevator-escape scenes. However, some of the scenes are too generic, derivative and unrealistic – particularly the crumbling wall and the window cleaning crane; and not to mention it does go over-the-top too. Not sure if it is really depicted that every fire-fighters will treat the raging fire like a SWAT team or Navy SEAL hunting the most wanted!

    For the technicality, the movie does excel in this apartment. For a menacing non-stop adventure from one point to another in the attempt to escape the raging and collapse-threatened building, it makes sense that the CGI and visual effects are done to justify the good watching experience in the end. “The Tower” raises the standard bar of Asian cinema to another level, but a top-notch story-telling device is still not there yet.

    But in the end, “The Tower” is a passable action-disaster-cum-melodrama that at times that offers visually explosive and engaging set-pieces but is also ruined by weak emotional display, corny dialogues, over-dramatized performance and thin characterization.

    Story: 1.5
    Casts: 3.5
    Cinematography: 4.5
    Effects: 4.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 9.2/20.0

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