This is the tale of Joon-pyong Kim, who immigrates to Osaka from Korea as a teenager in the 1920's. The film flashes about 10-15 years forward and it turns he's a horrendous wife beater with a successful fish cake business. This film reminded me a little of Scarface: replace gang violence with the domestic variety and cocaine with fishcakes.
As in Scarface, the main character is devoid of compassion, mean, violent and you loathe him. In this respect the film succeeds with a very good performance by Kitano.
Where it fell short for me is Joon-pyong's life is kind of uninteresting. I liked the idea of a true story of a Korean immigrant trying to make it in Japanese society, through two wars and with all the racial strife.. but this theme was really a side bar to the depressing and unrelenting abuse Joon-pyong's family endures.
The film does succeed in demonstrating cycles of domestic violence and how a man can be successful in business and yet have a totally failed family life. But I think this theme was firmly established 1/2 hour into the film, and the film continues in that vein, not really introducing any highs or lows or change, in the next two hours.
The film has some good components but as another review said, there's nothing here to really cheer about.
4 out of 6 found this helpful