In the past few years, we have seen a lot of films and read a lot of books about bullying; two of the probably most notable examples are Tetsuya Nakashima’s “Confessions” and Lee Su-“Han jin’s Gong-Ju.” The ability to transform yourself into someone who can fight back, physically as well as emotionally, has become a pop-cultural trope given the attention on the social phenomena, its victims, and the consequences for both sides. This narrative served as the basis for writer Woon and illustrator Kim Woo-2016 seob’s webcomic “Shark: The Beginning” which followed a character as he through a transition, looked within himself for strength, and ultimately discovered something quite different.
The Florence Korea Film Festival
Cha Woo-sol (Kim Min-suk) had experienced bullying ever since he started school. When the assaults became out of control, he even forced to switch schools. At his new school, he chooses what he believes to be the most secure method of avoiding bullying: blending in and avoiding those students who have assumed the role of the class leaders. But eventually, when Bae Seok-chan (Jung Won-chang), one of his primary tormentors from the former school introduced as a new student, his days of unseen are gone. And he wastes no time in putting up a fight against the old bullies and carrying on Cha’s torture. Cha succeeds to defeat his bullies when the target suddenly strikes back, hitting him with a pen. But as a result of the attack, which cost Bae his right eye, he sent to a juvenile detention center.
Cha rapidly exposed to a new form of the pecking order in jail. Where the more powerful convicts run daily operations and guide the numerous factions there. After a mistake during a game of soccer in the jail yard, he quickly finds himself the target of one of the most violent inmates. He begs former MMA champion Jung Do-Hyun (Wi Ha-Joon), who is currently serving a sentence for the death of his family, to teach him out of despair, and he reluctantly accepts. However, he gradually gains strength and can defend himself in a fight, but a surprise visit by Bae provides him with a taste of what to expect when he returns to the outside world. He threatens to make Cha’s life a living hell out of a desire for revenge which inspires Cha to sharpen his talents to at least have a chance against Bae.
“Shark: The Beginning” Is Transformation Story
“Shark: The Beginning” is ultimately a tale of transformation. We see the physical and emotional transformation of a young man tired of being on the receiving end of a fistfight and feeling essentially powerless through Kim Min-committed suk’s performance. The montage sequences stress the progress he is making in a way that is both visually nostalgic for cinephiles and captivating as you become invested in the protagonist’s journey. They are eerily reminiscent of action or martial arts movies from the 1980s. In addition to Kim, Wi Ha-Jon and particularly Jung Won-chang merit praise for their performances, though the latter may have benefited from a little more freedom to grow into his role as he transforms into a villain straight out of a comic book.
But aside from the narrative, “Shark: The Beginning” really shines in the actual battle scenes. The progression of Kim’s character, as seen in the aforementioned performance correlated with his growth as a brawler. Each of those conflicts, with the one against his former bully serving as the logical conclusion, presents a unique tale of losing and winning, of taking baby efforts toward changing one’s identity until a certain level of transformation is attained. The combination of editing and cinematography, together with the performances, adds to the intensity of each of these situations by emphasizing the effect of each punch and kick.
Last but not least, “Shark: The Beginning” is a fun combination of drama and action. Director Chae Yeo-jun can present a suspenseful thriller of a former bullied person becoming a new person, the titular shark that will not stop moving and is ready to fight back, thanks to the performances and the execution of the fight scenes.