Prime Finds: BIG MATCH (2014)

Back in the halcyon days of video
stores, I always made it a habit to forego the latest Hollywood
releases and would scour the shelves for obscure and odd films that
struck my fancy. Now, in the days of streaming, I’ve rediscovered my
passion for diamonds in the rough on Amazon Prime; a service that is
turning into a goldmine of oddities to dive into.

And now, on the first of many editions
of this column, I give you Big Match (2014).

Why did I watch it?

Big Match wound up on my radar back in
2014 when I stumbled across its trailer online. This stylish,
fast-paced glimpse checked all of my boxes in regard to movies I
needed to see. And then I waited. And waited. The film, for
whatever reason, never materialized on US shores. I never lost hope
in the film, despite my frustration with the film’s lack of domestic
release. Then, long after I’d given up on seeing it without
importing a Bluray, the film just magically SHOWED UP on Amazon. Way
to go Amazon!

Why did it take so long to show up here???

What is it?

Big Match is a 2014 South Korean action
movie directed by Ho Choi and starring Lee Jeong-Jai. It’s
fast-paced from start to finish and the characters are surprisingly
likable. What’s even more surprising is its wicked sense of humor
that keeps the movie interesting between (and even during) the film’s
many action scenes.

What’s it About?

Choi Ik-ho is a South Korean soccer
player who turns to the world of MMA after he is permanently banned
from the sport over assault charges (he beat up most of the opposing
team). With his brother / trainer by his side, he quickly rises
through the ranks and is poised to become champion… Until his
brother goes missing and he finds himself the prime
suspect in his disappearance. His brother’s disappearance is just the setup for a sick
game that Choi is now forced to play. A game that will put his
physicality and resourcefulness to the test.

The brotherly relationship (dysfunctional as it is) makes the movie
ten times better!

How’s the Action?

Craziness! Pure Craziness! The film’s
premise lends itself to some genuinely insane action setups that the
movie delivers upon beautifully. The cinematography and editing is
aggressive but almost always clear. From a daring escape from an
entire precinct’s worth of police to a human game of pac-man where
the “ghosts” are murderous triads, Big Match frequently delivers
the goods in fun and creative ways.

Choi is a physically dominant man of average intelligence; something
that makes the Big Match all the more challenging (and funny).

Who’s This Movie For?

People who love fun action movies with
a wicked sense of humor. One thing that none of the promotional
material prepared me for was the film’s wickedly dark sense of humor.
If Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) directed a movie in South
Korea, it would probably look and feel a lot like this. For me, this
is what put the film above other films of its type and puts it at the
top of the mountain of entertaining yet disposable action movies.

The best part is that Choi is NOT a
Jason Bourne-type. He’s not hyper competent, he’s just a very
talented fighter who happens to be in way over his head. His (mostly
understandable) mistakes add a lot to the film’s sense of urgency and
makes him infinitely endearing as a cinematic hero; kind of the
Korean John McClane.

One of many instances where the cops fail their way to victory.

Fun Facts

It’s a blast! But don’t be fooled by
its lack of a Prime tag. The film is “Free with Ads” where they
seem to have forgotten to place the ads. Double win!