KOREA 2010 Directed by: Kim Sang-Jin Written by: Baek Sang-Yeol Cast: Joo Hyun-Woo, Jo Han-Seon, Baek Jong-Hak, Moon Won-Ju, Park Young-Kyu, Cho Han-Sun
Everyone can attack a gas station. It’s so easy! That’s why also ten years after ATTACK THE GAS STATION! attacks on gas stations remain highly popular among teenage motorcycle gangs in Seoul. But one guy has prepared himself: Mr. Park who was attacked a decade ago in the original movie has hired local thugs and losers looking for a job to protect his gas station and if possible find the attackers who raided his place before. One night a couple of overconfident gang members attack his gas station and things escalate: Mr. Park’s bodyguards get their hands dirty, a bus hijacked by convicts comes by and finally the gang who started it all revisits the original crime scene. Once again it’s high noon at Seoul’s most embattled gas station.
ATTACK THE GAS STATION! 2 is another fine example of love-it-or-hate-it movie making: with a script as anarchic as the movie itself, off-beat or optionally infantile humor and no story whatsoever ATTACK THE GAS STATION! 2 feels like a lengthy joke or sitcom made in Korea. You either get it or you don’t.
With its only logic being to excel the earlier scenes with the next ones ATTACK THE GAS STATION! 2 is like a big show with its ensemble cast being all over the place. It’s entertaining, it’s fun and without any doubt it’s pure madness – if you liked the first film you’re the right audience for part 2. Everyone else beware.
However, there’s a very big difference between the first and the second movie: ATTACK THE GAS STATION! was born out of the post-97 Asian crisis, reflecting the economic downturn and the feeling of a whole generation that ended up without perspectives or a concrete future. The anarchy was a result of a society in crisis, with its younger generation looking for a way out – or at least temporary relief. Much of the humor then was spot-on and often directly related to the harsh reality. It was around that time when the “buy local” attitude became fashionable and people in Korea and throughout Asia changed their purchasing behavior temporarily as imported products were “out” and branded as bad whereas everything made in Korea was good in the eyes of society. ATTACK THE GAS STATION! hence featured a joke with a can of coke becoming the reason for the gang members’ outrage.
ATTACK THE GAS STATION! 2 now has little of that authenticity and realism left which renders the movie largely irrelevant. It’s stripped of its fundamental credibility that made the original work and turn into an interesting work of art reflecting on reality. Some may argue that ATTACK THE GAS STATION! 2 is the logical result of the global economic crisis and is another comment on reality at the right time.
But I don’t think so. It doesn’t feel the same and it doesn’t give me the impression that it’s more than a sequel that coincidentally benefits from the situation out there. That doesn’t mean that ATTACK THE GAS STATION! 2 isn’t entertaining, but it’s not as sharp as the original and lacks the depth and clarity. If you want to see the fine line separating good from great – this is how it looks like.
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