Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Fabricated City – Ji Chang-wook as a framed criminal in patchwork of undercooked ideas

Park Kwang-hyun’s first film in 12 years straddles too many genres and doesn’t live up to the impressive action set piece with which it opens, leaving too many ideas not properly explored

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 April, 2017, 8:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 October, 2017, 11:55am

2/5 stars

It has been 12 years since director Park Kwang-hyun’s last film, the wartime comedy Welcome to Dongmakgol, and his follow-up betrays the frustration he has endured over the years. Ostensibly about a wrongfully accused gamer attempting to clear his name, Fabricated City is part cyber thriller, part prison drama, part tirade against corporate corruption. Slickly produced and intermittently entertaining, it nevertheless fails to blend these disparate genres to produce a consistent tone or style.

One-time tae kwon do champion turned deadbeat online gamer Kwon Yu (TV star Ji Chang-wook in his first film role) finds himself facing life imprisonment when he is framed for the violent rape and murder of a young woman. On the inside he is repeatedly beaten by his fellow inmates, until a sympathetic serial killer helps him stage a daring escape. Now the target of a nationwide manhunt, Kwon is contacted by his team of fellow gamers, who band together in an effort to uncover the truth.

Fabricated City opens with an impressive action set piece, as Captain (Kwon’s in-game avatar) and his loyal teammates pull off a daring combat mission. However, the rest of the film fails to live up to this explosive opening. Ji struggles to make Kwon genuinely sympathetic, despite the endless barrage of tragedies he endures. Not even the film’s morally bankrupt, facially scarred villain (Oh Jung-se) can make us care about Kwon’s fate.

For all its potential, Fabricated City remains a patchwork of half-realised, undercooked ideas crowbarred into a generic formula.

Fabricated City opens on April 6

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