Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 24th February 2013
Starring: Son Ye-jin, Kim Sang-kyung, Sol Kyung-gu, Kim In-kwon
Directed by: Kim Ji-hoon
Hong Kong Box Office Takings: HK$4,733,937
Also showing as part of 4th Korean Film Festival in Australia KOFFIA 2013 in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in August to September 2013.
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After hitting rock bottom in the big and noisy blockbuster failure “Sector 7”, director Kim Ji-hoon defies all expectations to deliver one of the better disaster film in recent years. The difference between “The Tower” and “Sector 7” is that the audience cared about the characters and the situation on hand feel especially realistic. With all the offices being sky-rocketed to being higher and higher levels, the premises of being struck on level 108 with a fire looming and building collapsing seems frighteningly realistic. Such is the fear that director Kim Ji-hoon plays on and the result is a thoroughly engaging and tensely paced disaster thriller.
As with most blockbuster the actors are constantly overshadowed by the special effects in the sheer scale of the disaster. “The Tower” is no different in that department, except the audience cares for the characters and their underlying fate. Starring the star of internationally known films like “The Classic” and “Lovers Concerto”, Son Ye-jin possesses wonderfully screen presence and is perfect for this sort of role. Although her character is paper thin, like Hae Ji Won in “Sector 7”, both are instantly identifiable. Kim Sang-kyung flairs strongly as the unlikely hero who is pushed to his limits in order to save his daughter and love interest. Kim Sang-kyung overacts at times, but manages to convinces near the end. However the film belongs to the fire-fighter captain played by Sol Kyung-gu as it is his display of ultimate courage and self sacrifice that manages to carry the film broadly on his shoulders and taking the audience on an emotional roller-coaster along the way. Kim In-kwon is surprisingly effective in a small, but important role and provides the film with a humane and comic touch.
All in all, “The Tower” is a fantastic example of how to make a disaster film without losing the human factors and emotional effects. Far too many disaster epic nowadays forgotten the basic of engaging the audience, the need for them to identify and care for the characters, but luckily The Tower succeeds in all of the above. Director Kim Ji-hoon has shown that he can deliver the goods when given the right script and making the cheesy “Sector 7”, all but a mishap. Still, “The Tower” reminds us how important special visual effects are to film making and how together with strong characters, it can potentially have a powerful effect on the awaiting audience. This is a highly recommended film. (Neo 2013)
I rated it 9/10