Warning: This film contains explicit sexual scenes.
This week’s Film Friday features MBLAQ’s Lee Joon in ‘Rough Play’. This 2013 hit is a satirical expression of the Korean film industry and remains dark and disturbing from the get go.
Lee Joon plays an arrogant and delusional actor (Oh Young) who aspires to become the next big thing in the industry. The film begins as Oh Young is playing the main lead in a theatre production. His unique acting style forces the female lead to a breakdown as he improvises to an alarming degree. Manager Kim Jang-ho spots his talent and offers him a contract and a promise to make him a star. As his popularity flourishes, he is consumed by this merciless industry where his sanity and morality is sacrificed for the fame.
As a character, Oh Young becomes extremely unlikable and distant. How he is presented on screen reflects how we perceive him off screen. There is no lurking backstory or hidden emotion to make the audience sympathise and relate to him. The director, Shin Yeon-shick, can be applauded for the structure of this film. The editing and cinematography is exceptional in the way it illustrates the manic mind of Oh Young and his obsessive and hysterical character. The plot is predictable at times but it is embellished by the brilliant cast and the fantastic dialogue. It is artistically atmospheric but the plot could do with some more excitement and intrigue. Although it is a sincerely dark film, it is impressive as it controversially satirises an industry that we have all grown to love and admire. The bosses in the film are likened to cynical mob bosses which is a favourable comparison given the themes explored. The sexual scenes are excessive and perhaps unnecessary but fit with the controversial direction of the film. Personally, I’ve never seen much nudity in a Korean film before.
The dark themes are relayed throughout the film as a young man with a passion for acting reaches the height of his career only to succumb to his downfall. The role of Oh Young is remarkably played by former MBLAQ member Lee Joon. He plays the highs and the lows of the character impressively and his performance cannot be faulted. Rough Play is an interesting watch and enjoyable if you like dark content and satirical themes.