It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to ….

If action movies have taught us anything (and they have taught us plenty), it’s that if you receive an invitation for a Christmas Eve party in a tall building, you should refuse. First, we had The Towering Inferno, then Die Hard, and now we have the South Korean film, The Tower.

It’s Christmas Eve (I warned you) at Tower Sky, a luxurious building complex, and Dae-ho, the building’s manager, is forced to cancel plans with his daughter to work a party taking place that night. Disaster strikes when a stunt involving two helicopters and a lot of fake snow goes horribly wrong, trapping everyone inside of the doomed building. Party ruined.

Anytime there is a movie spectacle such as this one, you can usually expect to find yourself anxiously trying to get through the boring opening exposition of act one, just to get to the meaty action that follows. Interestingly enough, I found the opposite to be true in The Tower. The first half hour, where we get to meet all of the potential victims/heroes and discover their backstories actually held my attention much more than the middle section when the chaos begins. There is a nice potential romance set up between Dae-ho and the woman who offers to babysit his daughter during the party, Yoon-hee, another building employee. She has always had a secret crush on Dae-ho, and these early developments are what give extra weight during the film’s later, more harrowing moments. We also get to meet many of the usual characters who will be familiar to any fan of 70’s disaster cinema. That we spend such a good portion of time with these characters early on, makes it easier to discern later who to root for and who we wouldn’t mind seeing go down in flames. A second story line also provides a good amount of tension as fire chief Young-ki attempts to make his way UP the building to save lives, while everyone else is headed DOWN.

The Tower (Ta-Weo)
Ji-hoon Kim
Sul Kyung-gu, Ye-jin Son and Sang-kyung Kim
Release Date
Influx Grade: C+

As previously mentioned, when the fire kicks in full steam (yep) during the film’s second act, it does tend to lose a little of it’s punch. The CG fire effects certainly impress, but the mugging, melodramatics (normally perfectly acceptable in a disaster movie), and a couple of attempts to shock viewers with gruesome death scenes begin to wear a bit thin.

However, when the final reel starts up, the movie kicks back into high gear and it’s pure entertainment until we cross the finish line (minus one final shot at the end that becomes just a bit too cloying in a movie that already threatened to cross that line on multiple occasions). The acting by our two heroes and the straight men amongst the overly characterized performances of the others is strong, while Ye-jin Son as Yoon-hee gives the film’s best performance overall. There is also a nice through line that provides comic relief involving a group of highly religious types who have never heard the phrase “be careful what you wish (pray) for.”


All in all, not a bad attempt to recreate the cheesy, star-studded disaster flicks of the 70’s, but not a particularly great one either. Despite the engaging opening act and the slam-bang excitement of the final section, the disappointing middle of The Tower, means that Irwin Allen still remains king for now. But, it was still a good bit of fun watching someone take a run at him.

Grade: C+

Review by Jason Howard, special to Influx Magazine

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