• Beasts Clawing At Straws (Artsploitation Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Artsploitation Films
    Released on: December 15th, 2020.
    Director: Kim Yong-hoon
    Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Woo-sung,
    Hyun Been Shin
    Year: 2020
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    Beasts Clawing At Straws – Movie Review:

    The feature length directorial debut of South Korean filmmaker Kim Yong-hoon, Beasts Clawing At Straws follows Jung-Man (Sung-Woo Bae), a man who works in a public bathhouse. One day, he finds a Luis Vuitton bag full of cash unattended, and so he swipes it. After all, he doesn’t make much money and he’s got a daughter about to go to college in addition to a very sick mother. If anyone can put the money to good use, it’s him, and this new found financial freedom might give his marriage a bit of a kickstart, since he and his bride won’t be under so much financial stress.

    Meanwhile, a man named Tae-young (Woo-sung Jung), who works for the customs department, owes a whole lot of money to a gangster who has promised to chop off his hand if he doesn't pay him back. Also entering the picture is a woman named Mi-ran (Hyun Been Shin) who works a meager hostess job and would love nothing more than to pay off her many debts as well.

    There’s a connection between the three characters that we won’t go into here – in fact, we’ll leave the plot synopsis at that – because this is one of those movies that would be ruined by spoilers.

    A remarkably stylish and good looking film, Beasts Clawing At Straws has enough substance to go with the consistently impressive visuals. Kim’s screenplay, based on a novel by Keisuke Sone, does an excellent job of establishing the characters and letting us not only get to know them, but to feel for them, before the walls come tumbling down around them in the film’s third act. There’s good writing here, and that good writing is nicely interpreted by a talented cast, with each of the three leads bringing an appropriate sense of pathos and sympathy to their characters. We understand why they might be willing to do what they do in the movie, because those early scenes did such a good job of setting everything up for us.

    The movie is paced well, never dull, and it uses violence very effectively. There is a bit of cynicism noticeable in the last half hour or so, and that might put some viewers off, but overall this winds up as a very entertaining crime picture with strong production values and a great cast. Here’s hoping we see more from Kim Yong-hoon in the future, as with this debut he’s proven that he’s clearly got a lot of talent.

    Beasts Clawing At Straws – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 2.35.1 widescreen transfer presents the film in 1080p high definition on a 25GB disc and it is tough to find much to complain about here. Shot digitally, the image is understandably pristine, there’s no damage or grain or debris of any kind. The color scheme in the film is intentionally muted at times but this works in the context of the story being told, it suits the tone of the movie rather well. Still, colors do pop sometimes and are reproduced accurately enough. Black levels are good and while there’s a tiny bit of crush in a couple of spots, this is otherwise pretty much problem free. Detail is strong throughout and there’s a good bit of depth here as well.

    The main audio option on the disc is a Korean language 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, though Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo tracks are also provided. Subtitles are offered in English only. No problems here, audio quality is solid. There’s good use of the surround channels throughout, the levels are nicely balanced and there no problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about at all.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Artsploitation Films properties, menus and chapter selection options.

    Beasts Clawing At Straws – The Final Word:

    Beasts Clawing At Straws is a quirky and unique crime picture that balances style and substance in equal measure. It’s as entertaining as is it visually impressive and while Artsploitation’s Blu-ray might be light on extra features, it does look and sound very good. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Beasts Clawing At Straws Blu-ray screen caps!