-Korean with English sub.
When a spectacular display for a V.I.P. party goes horribly wrong amist prior safety concerns, its 180 stories of pure chaos, and almost as many smaller personal stories intertwined. If you must, you can view this as a Korean modernized version of "the towering inferno" but it contains so much more on a personal level of stories, social structure, and of course so real life events. I took a chance on this buying without seeing based on reviews and personal judgements thinking this would be a decent movie at best, which exceeded my expectations on many different levels. There were beautiful visuals of the Korean skyline, as well haunting reminders of 911. A multitude of layering with love and family, and hard decisions and sacrifices that were made, some of political involvement. This really tied so much together in a story and character depth, with a emotional value, something hollywood always seems to forget in thier digitialized world of cgi.
The movies opens around an important V.I.P. event in a premier building known as the tower sky, a 180 story glass building connected with a sky walk to a mirror structure. A beautiful night time display of fireworks celebrates Christmas eve along with helicopters that produce man made snow over the building and event. For this is a building that caters to the rich and elite. A cross draft causes chaos amongst the helicopters hovering above with massive snow making machines suspended by cables and this is the cause of the fire igniting a series of explosive reactions 180 stories up that leads to mass panic and confusion as well a frantic display of self perservation.
The cgi and fire simulation i thought was really good, on par with hollywood standards for a movie with significantly less budget money. The movie opens with about 30 minutes of backstory, following the disregarded safety concerns in favor of all hands on deck preparation for the V.I.P. party as well following the going ons of the fire department. What really sets this apart is the multitude of story lines, following the perspective from many angles from the husband who was suppose to be off christmas eve, but couldnt abbandon his fellow firefiighters and inspite of disappointing his wife, to a love interest of a building manager who is in love with one of his workers as they are trapped and struggle to survive. There is the man seperated from his young daughter that defies death and firefighters concerns to continue to find his daughter, a probies (rookie) first day on the job, to the political aspect where firefighters were given a priority list of rescue, starting with the congressmen and vip (think the social structure of Titanic where the rich were giving priority over survial over the poor, where as in a similar manner steel titanium doors were used to block hallway passages to ensure the intgrity structure of the building and extra time for helicopters to save the rich at the top, in exchange for a few lives)
There were many great scenes from a elevator stuck and being enfullfed by flames in the shaft, where peoples feet and hands started to burn from the intense heat cooking them alive, to a great glass connecting bridge that is compromised with people trying to cross, shattering and raining in a display of jagged glass, steel and bodies falling hundreds of feet to the ground. Hard decisions were made, some political, some in lure of self preservation, mixing with some comedic elements (such as a man trying to frantically exit an elevator while pushing his girlfriend in a hurry who appeared stuck between the doors "why is your ass so big, you told me you were a size 0") and the hazing of a rookie firefighter forced from his shower early running naked throughout the firehouse to find it was a false alarm.
This movie also relived some of the horrifing scenes of 911, falling burning bodies from the building, firefighters trapped trying to save those stuck in between floors and SPOILER... an eventual decision to implode the building to protect surrounding structures around it, as the building comes crumbling down , scenes of people frantacially searching for loved ones, posting pictures, END SPOILER...
A movie that exceed my expectations, my only gripes would be minor, a dvd with flat color tones, picture quality was not as crisp, and the subtitles were overly large, boxy, like a 8-bit video game display. Decent soundtrack, especially in the end where there was a stretch of no audible except a sombering classical piece with the raw emotions of the aftermath of people. There were some great slow motion scenes, a backdraft in the hallway, helicopter explosion, and glass bridge faulting as well camera work and angles that gave interesting perspectives. The move starts with 30 minutes of backstory, and is pratically non-stop action for the remainder 90 minutes following the mulitple story lines which goes amazing fast for a 2 hr movie. A solid recommend for anyone.