Korean Korner

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Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:18 pm

Introduction and Index.

South Korea has pretty much become the South East Asian equivaIent of Hollywood and indeed barring a few singularly minded directors, their output is fairly similar to the USA in terms of type and style of film. I believe this similarity and accessibility is why South Korean films are being distributed in the West on a far more regular basis than any other Asian country in the last few years.

The sudden spurt in growth has been aided by the government (particularly in terms of the quota system they had set up). Mainstream films bare the influence of Hollywood, Hong Kong, Japan and to a lesser extent mainland China but generally with a Korean perspective.

How will their film industry fare in its home and on the world stage now that the quota system is far more Hollywood film friendly? I guess we'll have to wait and see but at least it's very unlikely to affect the directors who truly have a unique style and vision.

This thread will be used to give a brief resume, comment or full review of each Korean film I've seen, hopefully it'll be of interest to some.

I'm sure there's no need to add that the thread is open to everyone so please feel free to add your own comments, reviews, opinions and criticisms.

Since I consider him to be a unique director, I have set up a seperate thread covering the films directed by Kim Ki-duk , please use the following link:

The Films of Kim Ki-duk

FILM INDEX - In alphabetical order.

Acacia - 2003

Ad Lib Night - 2006 Thread started by justindeimen.

Addicted - 2002

Almost Love - 2006 comments by justindeimen

APT (9:56) - 2006 comments by justindeimen

Arahan - 2004

Ardor - 2002

Art Museum by the Zoo - 1998

A Bittersweet Life - 2005 comments by hengcs.

Bloody Beach - 2000

Christmas in August - 1998

Crying Fist - 2005 comments by hengcs

Cut - 2004

Doll Master - 2004

Failan - 2001 comments by nate.

Failan - 2001 further comment.

H - 2002

Happy End 1999

Harmonium in my Memory - 1998

Holiday in Seoul - 1997

The Host - 2006 Thread started by Howard Schumann

The Humanist - 2001

Il Mare - 2000

Interview - 2000

Into the Mirror - 2003

Joint Security Area - 2000

King And The Clown - 2005 comments by hengcs.

Love Wind Love Song - 1999

Marriage is a Crazy Thing - 2002

Memento Mori, Whispering Corridors 2 - 1999

Memories of Murder - 2003 Thread started by Howard Schumann

A Moment To Remember - 2004 comments by hengcs.

My Sassy Girl - 2001

Nightmare - 2000

Oldboy - 2003

Once Upon a Time in High School - 2004

Oseam - 2003

Pisces - 2000

The President's Last Bang - 2005 review by arsaib4.

The Quiet Family - 1998

R-Point - 2004

Ring Virus - 1999

Save the Green Planet! - 2003 comments by arsaib4

Sex is Zero - 2002

Spider Forest - 2004

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - 2005

Sympathy for Mr Vengeance - 2002

Tell Me Something - 1999

This Charming Girl - 2004 comments by arsaib4

The Unforgiven - 2005 comments by hengcs

Untold Scandal - 2003

Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors - 2000 Thread started by Howard Schumann

Whispering Corridors - 1998

Woman on the Beach - 2006 Thread started by Howard Schumann.

Wonderful Days - 2003

You Are My Sunshine - 2005 comments by justindeimen

Still to come list.

Many more to come.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:21 pm

Oldboy (2003)

Directed by Chan-wook Park

Starring Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang

If one film has raised the general populaces awareness of South Korea in terms of film production then this has to be the one.

Oh Dae-Su is kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, why? On his release he is intent on finding out and exacting revenge!

A paper thin plot with some stupendously memorable sequences guarantee this film a good reaction where ever it's screened. I have seen so many serious comments and reviews on Oldboy which in a way is more comical than the film. The film is based on a Japanese Manga of the same name by Minegishi Nobuaki and Tsuchiya Garon and it is a "Black Comedy Revenge Drama" see it, enjoy it, laugh with it (although an understanding of the Asian sense of humour is certainly beneficial) be stunned by the set pieces but please, please, please don't look for any serious messages, there aren't any!

The film asks you to make a few leaps of faith especially when the 2 main protagonists are supposed to be of a similar age and one looks old enough to be the others father, in actual fact the age difference between the actors is 14 years.

Korean aspect - Well I don't know about Korean but eating a live squid/octopus? is definitely not something I'd expect to see in my local restaurant.

Essential cinema - No of course not but a spectacular slice of hokey entertainment. Highly recommended as a good night out at the cinema."

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rating 18

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:25 pm

Boksuneun naui geot (2002) - Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Directed by Chan-wook Park

Starring Du-na Bae, Ha-kyun Shin, Kang-ho Song

In years to come when the fuss over "Oldboy" is but a distant memory, this film will still stand out. No outrageous set pieces, no ott displays of over-emotive acting and a story line that is believable, out of the 2 films this is by far the better.

Ryu who is deaf and dumb does everything he can to help save his sisters life, she is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Unfortunately time and again everything he tries goes wrong until in the end he is seeking vengeance while others are seeking him for vengeance. Brutal but for the most part believable, the film illustrates that revenge isnt sweet and often leads to even greater levels of violence.

Asian aspect Organs, kidneys etc are often stolen from the living and sold for large amounts to wealthy patients. The illegal trade in human organs is a serious problem in several Asian countries.

Recommended viewing.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rating 18

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Wed Jun 15, 2005 11:59 am

Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA (2000) Joint Security Area

Directed by Chan-wook Park

Starring Yeong-ae Lee, Byung-hun Lee, Kang-ho Song

A poignant film showing the futility of war and the stupidity of humans.

For years Koreans on both sides of the DMZ (De-Militarised Zone) have been raised to see the other side as enemies, the story covers an investigation into the killing of 2 border guards in North Korea. The problem is compounded because there are injured troops on each side of the DMZ as well and both their
accounts of the incident are completely different.

Swiss and Swedish investigators try and get to the truth of the matter but receive minimal help from those involved, we see the story unfold Rashomon style with variations of the truth, unfortunately the true story is more dangerous to
those directly involved than the cover stories theyve invented, will it ever be told?

JSA is an impressive film which tries to see both sides as decent humans, which Im sure the majority are, it was a huge hit in South Korea and has hopefully opened the eyes of people to realise that North Koreans are the same as them, they are their kin and its only because of the super powers that the split occurred in the first place, Korea will hopefully be re-unified one day and then as in Germany the old views and stupidity will dissipate.

Recommended viewing, well constructed and generally very good performances.

There is a classic Homer(ism) in the film where the Swedish investigator talks about the bridge at Panmunjeom in the DMZ, he comes out with a classic line something like, "People who cross this bridge never return, that's why it's called The Bridge of No Return." And I thought Homer was still in Springfield!

Korean aspect - something that pops it's head up in a number of Korean titles but without it this film wouldn't exist, the North/South split and the hopes of re-unification.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rating 15

edited by admin
a thread on JSA

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jun 17, 2005 11:51 am

Three... Extremes (2004) Section 3 Cut

Directed by Chan-wook Park

Starring Byung-hun Lee, Won-hie Lim, Hye-jeong Kang

A nice guy director finds his wife and himself terrorised by an extra whos worked in all his films but has gone slightly round the bend.

Not much more I can say about the short film (around 45 mins) without giving spoilers, its mad, its graphically violent, and the ending makes no sense!

Fans of Chan-wook Parks Oldboy should love it, fans of his earlier films may find it slightly shallow.

I found it entertaining but pretty much eye candy with no depth.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC not rated almost definitely 18

Re: Korean Korner

Postby Sara » Tue Jun 21, 2005 12:14 pm

I just watched "A Tale of Two Sisters." Wow - and weird - and eerie. Wonderful acting by the four characters. Great cinematography. Very atmospheric.

But I still don't quite understand it all. I think this film should be viewed at least twice to "get it."

Anyone else see it, and what did you think?


Re: Korean Korner

Postby Sara » Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:25 pm

I just found out that there is a bonus disc for "A Tale of Two Sisters" with commentaries, deleted scenes, a making of featurette, and a few other goodies. I only rented the first disc and there were no commentaries or extras to help with understanding the film.

Have any of you watched this bonus disc?

This film was quite dark and mysterious, and I want to get some more insight into it.


Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:46 pm

Hi Sara, pity my old comments are still missing, A Tale of Two Sisters is intriguing, the basis of the story comes from an old Korean folktale although the film has only taken that as a starting point. It is a tricky film giving you the impression that your watching a variation on the Sixth Sense but that's just to lull you into a false sense of security, it isn't a horror despite the fact that it pretends to be one, it is a psychological drama with a little too much exposition at the end.

Are there any particular points you would like to discuss? I don't have the 2 disc version but I've seen the film a couple of times.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Thu Jun 23, 2005 12:17 pm

I'm still hoping we may get the old data back, slim chance I know. If nothings happened by the end of June I'll start replacing the missing comments.

Still it did teach me a valuable lesson, I save copies of almost everything now.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:21 pm

Gawi (2000) Nightmare

Directed by Byeong-ki Ahn

Starring Gyu-ri Kim, Ji-won Ha

Just a quick note on this one, most horror films are average at best, most of them are pretty straightforward with surprise endings that dont surprise at all, now and again there may be an outstanding performance or something hits the right note and it is genuinely scary.

Nightmare has nothing outstanding about it, its a typical teen slasher movie. The performances are all pretty run of the mill, the twists dont surprise or shock and the film is just not scary. If youve seen a few horror films then this is totally missable and unmemorable.

I cant recommend this film, its not badly made but its not good either, distinctly mediocre.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC not rated as yet, probably 15.


Might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Haebyeoneuro gada (2000) Bloody Beach

Directed by In Soo Kim

Whereas Nightmare is average, Bloody Beach is abysmal. Yet another bunch of teens getting picked off one by one but this is far more likely to bore you to death.

Not recommended at all.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC not rated as yet, probably 15.

Luckily I was lent these 2 films, please don't waste your time or money on them.


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