Although the new South Korean action drama "The Tower" is not considered a direct remake of the classic 1974 Irwin Allen disaster flick "The Towering Inferno," both film do offer up plenty of disaster movie hijinks set in skyscrapers.
"The Tower," which opens on Jan. 11 in limited U.S. theatrical release, drew a lot of buzz in South Korea where it opened as their holiday blockbuster movie offering during the Christmas season.
The movie features a star-studded ensemble cast of South Korean performers including Sul Kyung-gu ("No Mercy"), Son Ye-jin ("Spellbound") and Kim Sang-kyung ("Memories of Murder").
"The Tower" recalls classic 1970's American blockbuster disaster movies, such as Allen's "The Towering Inferno" and "The Poseidon Adventure," with its interwoven dramatic storylines, heartfelt acting, spectacular visual effects, a dramatic musical score and show-stopping pyrotechnics.
As with many South Korean dramas, "The Tower" also utilizes ample amounts of lighthearted comedy to make the characters more likeable and enhance the dramatic storyline.
Director Kim Ji-hoon milks the Christmas Eve setting as he establishes a "White Christmas" party at Tower Sky, an ultra-luxurious landmark building complex, filled with snotty high-end tenants, bureaucratic building management, VIP guests and working-class building employees.
Dae-ho (Kim Sang-kyung), the manager of the building and single father, is forced to cancel plans with his daughter Hana (Cho Mina) to work the event. His Christmas is saved when Yoon-hee (Son Ye-jin), the food mall manager with a secret crush on Dae-ho, offers to babysit Hana during the party.
Meanwhile, Young-ki (Sul Kyung-gu) the legendary fire chief of Yoido Station has finally promised his first holiday date night to his long suffering wife.
The party is in full swing with the spectacular sight of two helicopters flying overhead just to spray snow on the partygoers and make everything perfect.
When the unthinkable disaster strikes, Dae-ho and Young-ki, much like the Steve McQueen and Paul Newman characters in "The Towering Inferno," must summon all their strength and courage to save the lives of thousands but at what cost to themselves and their loved ones?
Kim even sneaks in several stabs at the Korean class structure that separates the wealthy upper class and working class people with visual jokes involving a snobby resident woman's dog and the building cleaning lady as well as with a new tenant.
As a whole, "The Tower" manages to blend humor, drama and action into a visually entertaining movie that owes a lot to American disaster and action movie blockbusters such as "The Towering Inferno," "Die Hard" and "Backdraft."
Title The Tower (Original title: 타워 Tower )
Genre Drama, Action
Language Korean w/ English subtitles
Running Time 121 mins
Rating NR not rated by the MPAA (US Rating) For viewers age 12 and up (Korea rating)
Director KIM Ji-hoon
Writer KIM Sang-don
Cast SUL Kyung-gu
Production The Tower Pictures, CJ Entertainment
Distribution CJ Entertainment
US Release date Jan. 11, 2013