A Dirty Carnival lives up to great examples from the history of the gangster film in its psychology and background, pace and action, plot and passion. In his fourth feature, director Yoo Ha does not let up for a moment from the very start - in which the hierarchy of the gangster world is sketched in all its inevitability. He maintains a self-assured and gripping style with plenty of room for the actors to shine, which has already yielded several major prizes for the leading actor Zo In-Sung. He is impressive in his role as the young and in many ways talented gangster Byung-Doo, who sorts things out for his gang without many scruples and occasionally with violence, while his own family wants to know nothing about his activities and can only barely make ends meet.
As Byung-Doo gets closer to the centre of power, the severity of his deeds increases and he no longer shrinks from committing murder. In the meantime, he has bumped into his old school friend Min-Ho, who has now become a film maker. While Min-Ho wrestles with a script for a gangster film, his gangster friend takes him into his confidence, with dramatic consequences.
Using this subtle angle, holding up a mirror to the gangster and the spectator, and focusing on family, social structures and the personal life of a gangster who seems to deny his own situation half the time, Yoo Ha realises an increasingly complex epic that will resonate for a long time. (GT)