Fabricated City / Jojakdwen doshi (dir. Park Kwang-Hyun, 2017) – Framed for murder, Kwon Yoo escapes prison and enlists the help of his gaming buddies to uncover the sinister truth.
Looking for an adrenaline rush, but don’t mind a little predictability? Enter Fabricated City for a high-tech, high-octane adventure.
Taking down enemies by the horde, Kwon Yoo (Ji Chan-Wook) has made quite a name as the exemplary captain of Team Resurrection. In the gaming world, that is. In real life, he has been an unemployed gamer since the failure of his sporting career. Little did he expect for his ordinary life to be thrown into turmoil in days. Framed for statutory rape and murder, he is tried and sentenced to serve life in Supermax.
The problem? He has never, ever met his alleged victim. Disoriented by his ordeal, then tortured at the hands of hard criminal Ma Deok-soo (Kim Sang-ho) in prison, Kwon Yoo is determined to escape and prove his innocence. With the help of his gaming buddies, he uncovers not only the truth to his fabricated crime, but a larger conspiracy at hand.
For what appears to be a frills-free adrenaline ride, the surprisingly layered story places much thought into the rising hero’s motivations. We see the media’s pre-verdict vilification of him, his mother’s futile faith to prove his innocence, and his harrowing time behind bars. Playing out in length, the severity behind the miscarriage of justice comes across hard and unadulterated, imploring sympathy for Kwon Yoo’s fate.
Risking a jarring tonal shift, the dramatic set-up then leads neatly into the intriguing mystery of the core cyber-thriller. Who set him up? How did they do it? And why him? Once the run-and-gun game kicks off, so does the fun. Energy never lets up, thanks to the ceaseless overblown set pieces. That is even if the plot is stretched too thin, running on for slightly over two hours.
Credit goes to the rat pack at the forefront. Reclusive hacker Yeo-wool (Shim) gathers the unlikely gamer team, which include visual effects whiz Demolition (Ahn) and retired professor Negative Space (Kim Ki Cheon). The quirky characters bring along endearing charm, a great sense of humour, and convenient skill sets, each coming into play with varying success.
Going all out on distinctive visuals, Fabricated City doubtlessly delivers on both over-the-top entertainment and hi-tech elements. Car chases seat comfortably alongside early Fast and Furious entries, while the hammy villain is particularly flashy with his futuristic devices. A fancy floor-wide screen may seem wholly impractical. But why does it matter, when the aesthetics impress?
Overindulgent editing never takes much away from the final reveal of the nationwide scheme, or the thrill of Kwon Yoo’s revenge. Predictable as the conclusion may be, it is hard not to revel in an assured and perfectly satisfying victory to his rapid-fire action-adventure.