What are you planning to do this Holiday season? I think enjoying the day with a good movie while stuffing yourself with delicious Christmas cookies is a great idea. While I don't know how to bake cookies (I'll just grab a pack of chocolate cookies from the nearest supermarket), I do have a movie recommendation. Check out the Korean movie The Tower. If you've have enough of Santa and elves and red-nosed reindeers, this Korean movie may just be for you.
Released on December 25, 2012, The Tower is a disaster film about a luxury residential tower set ablaze on a Christmas Eve. The movie is a remake of 1974's Hollywood movie The Towering Inferno. It stars some of the most recognized actors in South Korea - Sol Kyung GuKim Sang Kyung, and Son Ye Jin. It has a whooping US$9.3 million production budget, which is considered very high in South Korean standards, and garnered more than $30 million. It is one of the highest grossing domestic films in the country. For a country that doesn't have a lot of disaster films, The Tower's success is an enormous achievement in its movie industry. 


The Tower begins with an interesting introduction of all the characters in the movie as it tours us around the luxurious tower. As Christmas Day is just around the corner, the staffs are busy preparing for the upcoming party.  We meet the maintenance manager Lee Dae Ho, a widower who has a crush on the restaurant manager; his little girl Ha NaSeo Yoon Hee, the crush; Mr. Kim, a church elder who has just moved in after winning the lottery; Captain Kang Young Ki who is known as the legendary firefighter; Lee Seon Woo, a rookie firefighter who looks up to his captain; the building's cleaning lady; a snooty rich tenant and her Maltese dog, among others.
On the Christmas Eve, as the tenants and VIP's enjoy the spectacular show prepared by the owner of the skyscraper, one of the helicopters that carry the snow sprinklers flies out of control and crashes into the building. It explodes and fire quickly spreads, trapping several tenants. Needless to say, panic arises and many people got killed while trying to escape.
Captain Kang rushes to the fire scene despite his colleagues' pushing him to take a Christmas day off. With the help of Dae Ho who knows the ins and outs of the building, they try to evacuate as many people as possible before the lopsided building collapses.
This heart-pounding movie had me on the edge of my seat from the moment disaster hits the building. Just when the characters have solved one crisis, a new one arises. The cycle never seems to stop! The movie is even a lot scarier for someone who has great fear of heights like me! I felt terror, suspense, and anxiety all at once. It never has a dull moment. 
As expected in Korean movies, The Tower do have a dose of drama - a possible turn off to some viewers. I don't mind the drama and in fact, even welcome it. Not that I enjoy watching people cry (like my mom does). I just think that it's impossible to connect with the characters if they remain indifferent when someone dies. (Imagine this: Someone falls from the building. Everyone just stares and continues running like nothing happens. Selfish people.) I think that as long as it's not overdone, it would be fine.
I'm not a bit disappointed with the cast. You'll see solid performances in the movie. The actors' popularity has definitely made the film much more appealing. I appreciate that the film has its funny moments too. Mr. Kim and Seargent Oh provide comic relief in this rather serious film.

How the movie changed my outlook in life

The Tower made me think about social class discrimination that still exists in our seemingly civilized society. In the movie, priority is given to VIP's. Important people are saved first even if more lives will be put at risk. As cruel as it may seem, it does happen especially in critical times (like when disaster strikes). The movie's depiction is very accurate and is a sad reminder of reality. On a lighter note, it made me admire firefighters even more. No kidding. Being a firefighter is not as simple as I  thought! Kudos to these unsung heroes!
And lastly, I'll never look at gondolas the same way again. Ever.
A suspended gondola
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_cleaner#mediaviewer/File:Suspended_scaffold_in_Hong_Kong.jpg

My Verdict

I love Korean dramas, but I'm not very fond of Korean movies. Most of them have left me scratching my head in the end. The Tower, however, is the first that has made into my list of favorite movies. I became so addicted that I watched it for a second time the next day. My sister watched it three times for three consecutive days. We never grow tired of it. 
I give this movie a 5-star rating. Yup, that's how much I love The Tower.
The Tower Rainy Kua 2014-09-22 5.0 0 5
The Tower
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