Never Think Impossible

Fantasia Film Review: Split

Chul-Jong (Yoo Ji-Tae) was once a legend in the world of professional bowling. After an accident ended his career, he now plays underground games set up by Hee-Jin (Lee Jung-Hyun), who owns the local bowling alley. Chul-Jong notices a young prodigy, an autistic kid named Young-Hoon (David Lee) that could potentially be the next star in the bowling circuit, and help them win more bets.

To get the young man involved, Chul-Jong will have to reach out and be a part of Young-Hoon’s life. In a situation that is made obvious in the film, Chul-Jong lives a loner life by choice while Young-Hoon has been abandoned by his family. Young-Hoon is not completely autistic, he gives signs of needing and wanting a human connection. Chul-Jong may think he doesn’t need it, but he’s the one to provide that for him. In a way, Chul-Jong is more broken and more of an outcast than Young-Hoon.

As Young-Hoon gets trained, Hee-Jin receives an ultimatum from local gangster Toad (Jung Sung-Hwa) to pay her debts or lose the bowling alley. Toad is also an old bowling rival of Chul-Jong, and willing to break the rules to see him fail in his quest to save the bowling alley.

Korean director and writer Choi Kook-hee brings us a heartfelt underdog drama about the sport of bowling with Split. The film has been crafted to tug at each of your heartstrings while occasionally tickling your funny bone. It does exactly that, while building up the stakes to a bowling showdown. Although I think the movie could’ve cut down on the excessive number of climatic endings, it delivers on a satisfying payoff – eventually.

Recommended as an underdog story with real emotion. The movie aims to make you laugh, cry and cheer for the outcast team. It does a good job at gradually increasing the tension and it has a few twists and turns along the way. You kind of see them coming, but even if you miss them, the movie does explain (a little too much) them to you. Overall, a great crowd pleaser and worth seeing with the right audience.

That will do for now.