Socialist Worker

Struggles, fights and danger in pursuit of a payout

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2766

The scramble to get rich quick

The scramble to get rich quick.


Desperate people thrashing to escape perilous situations forms the plot of this South Korean film, Beasts Clawing at Straws.

A cleaner who’s forced to care for his sick mother finds a huge bag of money left in a sauna.

Cleaners, gangsters, a customs agent in debt, business owners and more are drawn into the scramble for the bag of cash. What follows is a reverse-plot gore-fest in which director and writer, Yong-hoon Kim slowly draws the characters together in a satisfyingly bloody conclusion.

You can’t help rooting for the characters forced into the action through no fault of their own.

Characters cross paths and plunge themselves into danger as they attempt to cheat and hustle their way to the bag of money.

Shin Hyun-been plays Mi-ran, a sex worker whose husband is both mentally and physically abusive. She gets sucked into the intrigue after she gets conned.

But Yong-hoon builds on the novel by Keisuke Sone in making sure there are no simple moral messages to take away.

Any sympathy for characters is shattered and swiftly done away with.

It’s easy to see why comparisons have been drawn between the film and big Hollywood names such as the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino.

The plot is fragmented and sometimes hard to follow. But the story pulls you in, capturing your full attention. From the beginning to end it was exhilarating.

The viewer is taken on a journey and pushed into false expectations which are flipped keeping the film dramatic and captivating.

Karma, fate and violence all merge excellently to provide a film full of surprises.

Like many Hollywood films, the humour is black and the violence is extreme and graphic, but this film is its own beast entirely.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.