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Punch

1 rating: 5.0
DVD Release, Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker
1 review about Punch

Coming-Of-Age Comedy Gets High Marks with this Quick PUNCH

  • Mar 13, 2013
Rating:
+5
Despite whatever culture each of us hails from, there are some universal experiences we all share; and one of those that bridges one group of people to the next is the traditional ‘coming of age’ experience.  Those fragile formative years between adolescence and adulthood have been mined by movie studios for years.  They’ve produced some of the bawdiest, belly-busting comedies from Judd Apatow and his cadre of knuckleheads; and they’ve delivered us some of the quirkier, more wholesome family films from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Chris Columbus, and (the late but great) John Hughes.  And, because ‘coming of age’ is an uniquely human experience, why shouldn’t audiences be treated to some of the same from foreign shores?  This past year, I’ve enjoyed Norway’s TURN ME ON DAMMIT, Spain’s BONSAI, and France’s Q (aka DESIRE); but none has brought me more chuckles than South Korea’s PUNCH.
 
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and character.  If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment.  If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
 
It seems that Wan-deuk (played by Ah In Yoo) can’t catch a break.  The child of a broken home, he’s somewhat embarrassed of his father, an aging street performer who’s growing too old to keep up his dance, and he’s growing increasingly frustrated with his neighbor-and-teacher, Dong-joo (Yun-seok Kim).  Frustrated, he can’t seem to keep himself out of street fights … so when Dong-joo takes an interest in seeing the boy find some balance in his life by introducing him to the mother who abandoned him long ago, Wan-deuk slowly starts to realize that all is not lost.  In fact, before it’s all over, he may even grow to like his teacher and mentor!
 
South Korea’s 2011 release, PUNCH, is exactly the kind of film that some American studio will stumble across in a few years and potentially produce an Americanized version that’ll go on to some big box office and maybe even spout a few break-through performances for up’n’coming talent.  It’s chocked full of so many secondary plotlines – illegal immigration (indeed a Hollywood ‘hot button’ issue these days), the “it takes a village to raise a kid” mentality (another Tinseltown favorite), and crises of faith – that I’d be hard-pressed to say what I liked more: Ah In Yoo or Yun-seok Kim’s performances OR the whole ensemble.  Clearly, everyone in this flick was drawn enough to the script to show up with their ‘A’ game; and, despite a few short sequences that may not work as well because something lost in the translation, the script (by Dong-Woo Kim, adapted from the novel by Lyeo- ryung Kim) is just so consistently smart, funny, and romantic.
 
With that, I won’t belabor the issue: clearly, the film struck a chord with me, and I’d strongly encourage you to check it out.  More so, I encourage you to buy a copy for someone you love and pass it on.  No doubt, they’ll be pleased you shared it.
 
In the end, it’s a story about people.  Everyone wants to get along.  Everyone wants to belong.  It may not mean as much to you as it did to me, but, then again, it isn’t every day that I’m moved to recognize that something so simple as buying your mother a pair of shoes can move a woman to a heartfelt expression of gratitude, respect, and maybe even love.  PUNCH reminds us that sometimes you need to get knocked on your butt – punch-drunk – in order to understand what you’re truly missing from your life.
 
PUNCH is produced by UBU Film and Another Pictures.  DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled by Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker.  For those of you needing the clarification, this is a Korean-spoken-language release with English-subtitles.  As for the technical specifications, it all looks and sounds exceptional; there’s some excellent ‘daily life’ cinematography captured in some of these downtrodden neighborhoods because what matters is the people living inside, not the shape of the tenement.  Also – and this is rare, folks, so make sure you appreciate it – this 2-disc set gives you an hour of special features (character summaries, some deleted scenes, and short featurettes about filming, etc.) that give you an insight into the production process.  They may not reveal anything all that world-changing, but it’s nice to have them when so many imports have so few.
 
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE.  Don’t let the detractors fool you because PUNCH is an out-and-out delight.  (I’ve seen an online preview that makes the film out to be something that it isn’t, and I can’t help but wonder if that kept the film from building an audience.)  It’s a winning family comedy that revolves much more around Wan-deuk’s struggle to come of age despite his own self-destructive influences.  It effectively blends the comedy in a formula that made such films as FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and LOVE, ACTUALLY into respectable crowd-pleasers, without falling back on the formula to make anyone – the kid, his father, the teacher – into a winner.  Instead, it encourages them to celebrate life, and I give it a hearty recommendation.
 
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker provided me with a DVD screener copy of PUNCH by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
Despite whatever culture each of us hails from, there are some universal experiences we all share; and one of those that bridges one group of people to the next is the traditional ‘coming of age’ experience.  Those fragile formative years between adolescence and adulthood have been mined by movie studios for years.  They’ve produced some of the bawdiest, belly-busting comedies from Judd Apatow and his cadre of knuckleheads; and they’ve delivered us some of the quirkier, more wholesome family films from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Chris Columbus, and (the late but great) John Hughes.  And, because ‘coming of age’ is an uniquely human experience, why shouldn’t audiences be treated to some of the same from foreign shores?  This past year, I’ve enjoyed Norway’s TURN ME ON DAMMIT, Spain’s BONSAI, and France’s Q (aka DESIRE); but none has brought me more chuckles than South Korea’s PUNCH.
 
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and character.  If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment.  If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
 
It seems that Wan-deuk (played by Ah In Yoo) can’t catch a break.  The child of a broken home, he’s somewhat embarrassed of his father, an aging street performer who’s growing too old to keep up his dance, and he’s growing increasingly frustrated with his neighbor-and-teacher, Dong-joo (Yun-seok Kim).  Frustrated, he can’t seem to keep himself out of street fights … so when Dong-joo takes an interest in seeing the boy find some balance in his life by introducing him to the mother who abandoned him long ago, Wan-deuk slowly starts to realize that all is not lost.  In fact, before it’s all over, he may even grow to like his teacher and mentor!
 
South Korea’s 2011 release, PUNCH, is exactly the kind of film that some American studio will stumble across in a few years and potentially produce an Americanized version that’ll go on to some big box office and maybe even spout a few break-through performances for up’n’coming talent.  It’s chocked full of so many secondary plotlines – illegal immigration (indeed a Hollywood ‘hot button’ issue these days), the “it takes a village to raise a kid” mentality (another Tinseltown favorite), and crises of faith – that I’d be hard-pressed to say what I liked more: Ah In Yoo or Yun-seok Kim’s performances OR the whole ensemble.  Clearly, everyone in this flick was drawn enough to the script to show up with their ‘A’ game; and, despite a few short sequences that may not work as well because something lost in the translation, the script (by Dong-Woo Kim, adapted from the novel by Lyeo- ryung Kim) is just so consistently smart, funny, and romantic.
 
With that, I won’t belabor the issue: clearly, the film struck a chord with me, and I’d strongly encourage you to check it out.  More so, I encourage you to buy a copy for someone you love and pass it on.  No doubt, they’ll be pleased you shared it.
 
In the end, it’s a story about people.  Everyone wants to get along.  Everyone wants to belong.  It may not mean as much to you as it did to me, but, then again, it isn’t every day that I’m moved to recognize that something so simple as buying your mother a pair of shoes can move a woman to a heartfelt expression of gratitude, respect, and maybe even love.  PUNCH reminds us that sometimes you need to get knocked on your butt – punch-drunk – in order to understand what you’re truly missing from your life.
 
PUNCH is produced by UBU Film and Another Pictures.  DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled by Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker.  For those of you needing the clarification, this is a Korean-spoken-language release with English-subtitles.  As for the technical specifications, it all looks and sounds exceptional; there’s some excellent ‘daily life’ cinematography captured in some of these downtrodden neighborhoods because what matters is the people living inside, not the shape of the tenement.  Also – and this is rare, folks, so make sure you appreciate it – this 2-disc set gives you an hour of special features (character summaries, some deleted scenes, and short featurettes about filming, etc.) that give you an insight into the production process.  They may not reveal anything all that world-changing, but it’s nice to have them when so many imports have so few.
 
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE.  Don’t let the detractors fool you because PUNCH is an out-and-out delight.  (I’ve seen an online preview that makes the film out to be something that it isn’t, and I can’t help but wonder if that kept the film from building an audience.)  It’s a winning family comedy that revolves much more around Wan-deuk’s struggle to come of age despite his own self-destructive influences.  It effectively blends the comedy in a formula that made such films as FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and LOVE, ACTUALLY into respectable crowd-pleasers, without falling back on the formula to make anyone – the kid, his father, the teacher – into a winner.  Instead, it encourages them to celebrate life, and I give it a hearty recommendation.
 
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker provided me with a DVD screener copy of PUNCH by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.


Despite whatever culture each of us hails from, there are some universal experiences we all share; and one of those that bridges one group of people to the next is the traditional `coming of age' experience. Those fragile formative years between adolescence and adulthood have been mined by movie studios for years. They've produced some of the bawdiest, belly-busting comedies from Judd Apatow and his cadre of knuckleheads; and they've delivered us some of the quirkier, more wholesome family films from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Chris Columbus, and (the late but great) John Hughes. And, because `coming of age' is an uniquely human experience, why shouldn't audiences be treated to some of the same from foreign shores? This past year, I've enjoyed Norway's TURN ME ON DAMMIT, Spain's BONSAI, and France's Q (aka DESIRE); but none has brought me more chuckles than South Korea's PUNCH.


(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and character. If you're the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you're accepting of a few modest hints at `things to come,' then read on ...)

It seems that Wan-deuk (played by Ah In Yoo) can't catch a break. The child of a broken home, he's somewhat embarrassed of his father, an aging street performer who's growing too old to keep up his dance, and he's growing increasingly frustrated with his neighbor-and-teacher, Dong-joo (Yun-seok Kim). Frustrated, he can't seem to keep himself out of street fights ... so when Dong-joo takes an interest in seeing the boy find some balance in his life by introducing him to the mother who abandoned him long ago, Wan-deuk slowly starts to realize that all is not lost. In fact, before it's all over, he may even grow to like his teacher and mentor!

South Korea's 2011 release, PUNCH, is exactly the kind of film that some American studio will stumble across in a few years and potentially produce an Americanized version that'll go on to some big box office and maybe even spout a few break-through performances for up'n'coming talent. It's chocked full of so many secondary plotlines - illegal immigration (indeed a Hollywood `hot button' issue these days), the "it takes a village to raise a kid" mentality (another Tinseltown favorite), and crises of faith - that I'd be hard-pressed to say what I liked more: Ah In Yoo or Yun-seok Kim's performances OR the whole ensemble. Clearly, everyone in this flick was drawn enough to the script to show up with their `A' game; and, despite a few short sequences that may not work as well because something lost in the translation, the script (by Dong-Woo Kim, adapted from the novel by Lyeo- ryung Kim) is just so consistently smart, funny, and romantic.

With that, I won't belabor the issue: clearly, the film struck a chord with me, and I'd strongly encourage you to check it out. More so, I encourage you to buy a copy for someone you love and pass it on. No doubt, they'll be pleased you shared it.

In the end, it's a story about people. Everyone wants to get along. Everyone wants to belong. It may not mean as much to you as it did to me, but, then again, it isn't every day that I'm moved to recognize that something so simple as buying your mother a pair of shoes can move a woman to a heartfelt expression of gratitude, respect, and maybe even love. PUNCH reminds us that sometimes you need to get knocked on your butt - punch-drunk - in order to understand what you're truly missing from your life.

PUNCH is produced by UBU Film and Another Pictures. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled by Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker. For those of you needing the clarification, this is a Korean-spoken-language release with English-subtitles. As for the technical specifications, it all looks and sounds exceptional; there's some excellent `daily life' cinematography captured in some of these downtrodden neighborhoods because what matters is the people living inside, not the shape of the tenement. Also - and this is rare, folks, so make sure you appreciate it - this 2-disc set gives you an hour of special features (character summaries, some deleted scenes, and short featurettes about filming, etc.) that give you an insight into the production process. They may not reveal anything all that world-changing, but it's nice to have them when so many imports have so few.

HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Don't let the detractors fool you because PUNCH is an out-and-out delight. (I've seen an online preview that makes the film out to be something that it isn't, and I can't help but wonder if that kept the film from building an audience.) It's a winning family comedy that revolves much more around Wan-deuk's struggle to come of age despite his own self-destructive influences. It effectively blends the comedy in a formula that made such films as FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and LOVE, ACTUALLY into respectable crowd-pleasers, without falling back on the formula to make anyone - the kid, his father, the teacher - into a winner. Instead, it encourages them to celebrate life, and I give it a hearty recommendation.

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker provided me with a DVD screener copy of PUNCH by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.

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March 16, 2013
you are getting your mitts early on the movies I want to see LOL!!
 
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