Film Review: The Tower

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High octane action that doesn’t let up – the fireman are the true stars

Korean enter the disaster movie foray with what is an amazingly fun film full of effects, twists, turns and a thirst for cast killing stunts that rivals the best of them!

Released : 2012

Runtime : 121 minutes

The Premise

Part of a Christmas celebration in two towering buildings (much like the Petronas Towers) involves helicoptering snow onto the building. However when the stunt goes wrong thousands of lives are thrown into the balance as everything that can go wrong does!

The Disasters Faced

Fire, helicopter crashes, collapsing buildings, lifts that cooks, the cooks themselves, window ledges, collapsing walls and floors, buildings falling down… did I mention fire? It’s a very busy film!

The Execution

The Tower beautifully pays homage to the golden era of disaster movies. In its very Asian humoured way, much like Haeundae (Tidal wave), we are introduced to characters bumbling romances, over the top fun acting and some more serious plots. There’s a great cross section and the film is utterly brutal with whom survives and whom doesn’t. At bang on the half hour mark the helicopter crash takes place once we’ve established most of the cast and where they are in the building. The result is a manic paced runaway-from-the-fire fest where various groups of characters cross over, join, separate and work together to try and survive. The film simply does not pause for the next hour and a bit as once people survive one drama, the next problem appears – usually taking someone out of the action. There’s still room for a few slow-mo’s of heroic actions and some emotional screams which are staples of Asian disaster movies but the gloss and level of production has rarely been rivalled from this side of the world.

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If there’s a minor quibble with the film, its that some of the characters aren’t fleshed out nearly enough despite their screams and perils

The Effects

The Tower itself looks superb and the sets that are then blown up and drenched to smithereens are fantastic. The digital effects range widely. Some of the huge explosions looks amazing, others are less convincing but at no point did it take me out of the film. What I did appreciate was the use of real water and fire for most of the stunts and that the actors and actresses aren’t acting so much – they’re reacting to everything exploding around them.

Why Its Worth Watching

Put simply, its up there in the top 3 disaster movies from the Asian side of the world. It holds many similarities to The Towering Inferno but whilst some of the same situations occur (such as blowing up the water tanks) the results are certainly not the same and the film certainly feels completely different. Drinking games can be done with each time someone screams or dies. You’ll be ruined I promise you. The run time, production, acting, effects and overall feel is so tightly put together it’s a real triumph.

Best Character

Poor Hana. Her dad barely gets time to play with her and then she gets dragged around a burning building for the rest of the film only to end up being shoved onto a collapsing bridge. Not exactly the Christmas present the girl was hoping for I’m sure!

Best Death

There’s so many! I think the grizzliest is the elevator scene. I won’t spoil it. It’s very wrong. Closely followed by the falling Gran.

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There’s some really impressive crowd scenes alongside the amazing fire effects

Drinking Game

For each massive tonal shift in the film from comedy to death and back again in 3 scenes.

Weirdest Moment

There is a bizarre comedy couple throughout the film that appear to utterly hate each other and spend most of it insulting each other. They are so out-of-place compared to everyone around them it works. Similarly the religious lottery winners whom can’t believe their luck are a great addition. “I’m so lucky!!” – next we see them their rooms on fire and they are running around screaming!

Bottom Line

Full of little Korean quirks, this is a slick masterpiece of disaster movie heaven. If you choose one big budget disaster movie that’s designed to thrill you and not make you think – choose The Tower.

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