IngToogi: The Battle of the Internet Trolls / 잉투기 (2013)
Director: Um Tae-hwa
Screenplay: Um Tae-hwa
Cast: Um Tae-goo, Ryu Hye-young, Kwon Yul, Kim Jun-bae
The title although somewhat accurate gives the wrong impression about itself. This isn’t some wacky comedy where losers try to lamely beat each other but instead it’s a more serious drama that only appears to be a light comedy in the beginning. The story follows a 27 year old male, Tae-sik, whose online nickname on an MMA discussion form is KoolKidneyz. He gets into a fierce argument online with another user named ManBoobz. This results in ManBoobs tricking KoolKidneyz into meeting in person where ManBoobs beats him up. The beating is recorded and posted on the internet. Of course, Tae-sik is embarrassed but vows revenge and joins an MMA club to train. He’s aided by his friend, Hee-joon and by a girl named, Young-ja, for reasons that are unclear at first.
Apparently, real fights between people who argue on the internet do occur in South Korea, which means the premise of the film isn’t one of those wacky, what-if scenarios. However, it’s really just a set-up for exploring a couple of characters who are outsiders trying to get handle on their emotions, particularly anger. While Tae-sik and Young-ja are relatable as characters, it’s actually somewhat difficult to sympathize with them or to understand them on more than a superficial level. It’s hard to describe why this is, perhaps it’s because we don’t really see what’s so bad about their lives outside of the internet.
Then there’s the ending which is totally confounding. The Fantasia description described it as a pitch perfect ending but when I saw it I thought it was really dumb and also a waste of flour (if you watch the film, you’ll know what I mean). I saw nothing positive in the characters’ actions in the ending and don’t see how this somehow “improved” any of them in any way. It seemed like an impractical fantasy which would lead to worse consequences in real life. The film started off interesting but I didn’t really see how the film commented on youth culture and its relation to the internet.