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Time Out says
In this tidy, sentimental tale of two underdogs and their eventual if bloody redemption via the boxing ring, Gang Tae-shik (‘Old Boy’s’ Choi Min-sik), a washed-up, fortysomething former fighter, unemployed and separated from his family, is reduced to earning a crust on the street as a punchbag for stressed-out passers-by. Meanwhile, troubled teen Yu Sang-hwan (Ryoo Seung-bum), jailed for a violent mugging, takes up boxing to keep himself out of solitary after chewing off an inmate’s ear in a canteen scrap. As the action cuts between these dual strands, we witness Gang’s violent self-loathing and initially pathetic attempts at reconnecting with his young son, alongside Yu’s pugilistic training and the refocusing of his aggression, motivated by his grandmother’s stroke. When both men enter an amateur tournament, the narrative contrives a climactic contest that, problematically, gives you one too many to root for. Choi brings both a tremendous physicality and savage dignity to his bedevilled Gang, the fight scenes have a scrappy feel, and there’s one ferocious take that lasts an entire round.