HIFF Review: ‘The Stone’

Oct. 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

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REVIEW BY BURL BURLINGAME / Special to the Star-Advertiser

I don’t know jack about the ancient, much-adored game of Go, except that it seems to be a cross between Space Invaders and Battleship and played with black and white M&Ms. Since about a third of “The Stone” consists to close-ups of Go stones littered about the gaming boards, us non-Go types will have wandering attention problems.

1013 the stone

‘THE STONE’

Spotlight on Korea

United States Premiere

Screens at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 and 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at Consolidated Koko Marina 8

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But the Go folk do love their game, and “The Stone” is a kind of parable about how life is NOT a game. Go is a mannered, polite and thoroughly mathematical pursuit of abstract strategy, and real life is messy, nonsensical and incautious. This is played out here by pairing up a young lad who is a kind of Go savant with an older gangster who has a rekindled love of the game.

Yes, the young man becomes the master, the elder becomes the student, grasshopper.

The gangster becomes so wrapped up in the Go-playing that he lets things slide, and by the end of the film, rival gangsters come a’knockin’. Turns out Go was bad for his business model. And because they’re Korean gangsters, and this is a Korean movie, there’s lots of bloody aluminum bats and gut-knifings to liven things up.

The gangster, played by Kim Roi-Ha, has an easy authority and a fair amount of world-weariness. His restrained performance is about the only reason to sit through this. The critical miss is the Go-master youth, essayed with sleepy snottiness by Cho Dong-In, a character with a yawning lack of charisma and empathy.

You shouldn’t cheer when the hero gets beat up, but I shouted, “Go!”
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