Korean Korner

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Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Sun Jul 03, 2005 3:31 pm

Holiday in Seoul (1997)

Directed by Ui-seok Kim

Starring Min-jong Kim, Hee-kyung Jin, Jin-shil Choi, Dong-Kun Jang

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that saying is true then Wong Kar Wai can consider himself well and truly flattered. If there was no Chungking Express there would be no Holiday in Seoul, certainly not as it is, the construction, editing, styling, photography, character narration, pacing, the whole shebang is a Korean version of Chungking Express.

That said, I found it to be a good film (once I could get over the similarities) the story revolves around two groups of two people, the first a bellboy who has an obsession with womens legs and falls for a leg model, problem is she has a boyfriend and a high flying career. The second half is centered around a taxi driver and a hotel phone operator, again he falls for her but she is already involved with a married man.

The biggest difference between Holiday in Seoul and Chungking Express is the overall feeling, Holiday in Seoul has an air of despair, inner city loneliness and sadness, you feel that the hotel phone operator in particular is in a severe state, clutching at straws and on the edge, another similarity with Chungking Express is the fact that she becomes an airline stewardess at the end of the film.

The acting is fine, the pacing is good (as it should be) and despite the obvious comparison its quite a decent film.

The title is actually wrong, it should be Holiday Inn Seoul, this is where two of the characters are situated and where a large amount of the film is set.

Recommended, especially if you havent seen Chungking Express yet.

Cheers Trev.

No BBFC rating but probably 15.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Mon Jul 04, 2005 3:56 pm

Acacia (2003)

Directed by Ki-Hyung Park

Starring Hye-jin Shim, Jin-geun Kim, Oh-bin Mun, Na-yoon Jeong

Slow paced horror about a middle aged couple who adopt a boy, the woman picks him because of his artistic talent, personally if I saw his pictures, Id send him for psychiatric treatment but thats me.

The boy Jin-Seung is always drawing trees, quite often with disturbing looking figures near them, it turns out he believes that his mother died and became a tree so if hes not drawing them, hes talking to or hugging them.

After a little bust up one day, Jin-Seung runs out in a storm and disappears, the police are informed but then the adoptive father starts having recurring nightmares, the mother starts cracking up and the next door neighbours little girl starts talking to the Acacia tree in the garden, strange things also happen to the grandparents.

What has become of Jin-Seung, what is the truth about the Acacia tree and why have the parents suddenly gone mad?

If you dont mind the pacing its not a bad film, far more thoughtful than the average horror and if anything, its the scenes that try to make this a horror film which stand out as weak, it didnt need them, this would have made a fine psychological thriller without them.

The gore hounds wont enjoy it, but those who like a bit more in the way of a cerebral thriller will at least get some entertainment value from it.

If you enjoyed A Tale of Two Sisters theres a good chance youll enjoy Acacia.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15

Re: Korean Korner

Postby nate » Sun Jul 10, 2005 5:05 am

Hi trev, hope you don't mind me adding a korean movie that I've watched recently

Failan (2001)

In this movie, Hong Kong star Cecilia Cheung plays a chinese woman named Failan who after the death of her parents comes to Korea to live with her relatives and make a living. Upon arriving, she learned that her relatives already moved to Canada. In order to stay in Korea and make a living, she agreed to a fake marriage to get a working permit bu is sent to a prostitute den. In her wit, she has convinced them that she is sick and unillegible to work and found a job at a laundromat run by an old woman.

The main focus of the film is on her legal husband named Kang-Jae (played by Choi Min-Shik, the star of Old Boy), a third rate gangster whose life has no direction. Later, he was informed that her wife, Failan whom he has never met is already dead.

This film re-examines the life of Kang-Jae as his life was changed by Failan's death. There are unexpected emotions and mixed feeling that slowly unfolds as the story progresses. Despite having never met, they end up giving each other the dignity and self-respect that their lives had been missing for so long that leads to a heart-breaking scene that displyas what it means or feel to be in love.

This film is one of my personal favorite and should be watched by anyone who searches for an original story and that has great acting from Choi Min-Shik. Although, the film also has flaws as the female character was not presented with the same depth as the way they presented Kang-Jae. I'd still highly recommend this film.

edited by admin
trevor's review

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:24 am

Failan is one I'll definitely look out for. Of course you can post your comments nate, everyone can. The more the merrier.

Cheers Trev.

Just finished watching Failan, agree with "nate's" comments, another good performance from Choi Min-sik and very different to his other major roles, "Oldboy" and "Happy Ending". Could have done with more of "Failan's" story though.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Thu Jul 14, 2005 11:05 am

Yeonpung yeonga (1999) Love Wind Love Song

Directed by Dae-yeong Park

Starring Dong-Kun Jang, So-young Ko

Tae-hee lives and works in Seoul, he has recently split from his fianc and is looking after his ill father. Young-suh lives and works on Cheju as a tour guide ferrying people around the Island, neither are outwardly searching for love but both are in need of it.

A gentle romance set on the beautiful Island of Cheju, Tae Hee takes a well deserved short break and he and Young-suh constantly bump into each other till he asks her to be his guide around the Island, a favour turns into friendship which gradually takes a romantic turn to love.

They plan to meet before he has to fly back to Seoul but when she gets there she finds hes already gone on an earlier flight, her friends and in particular her mother are quick to put Tae-hee down as someone just looking for a holiday fling but Young-suh doesnt give up hope, love has taken hold and she doesnt want to let it go.

Pure escapist romance in a beautiful setting, the film has some nice little touches such as Young-suhs English classes where the phrases she learns reflect the state of the romance and her feelings. So if you just want to chill out especially with your partner, this is an ideal film.

Cheers Trev

No BBFC rating but suitable for any age group - U.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Wed Jul 20, 2005 7:03 pm

Arahan jangpung daejakjeon (2004) Arahan

Directed by Seung-wan Ryoo

Starring Seung-beom Ryu, So-yi Yoon

Arahan was everything I thought Kung Fu Hustle should have been, it is a martial arts comedy that takes a great many sly digs at its own genre. As with Kung Fu Hustle, there are also scenes that parody The Matrix but theyre not overdone.

The joy of this film is it is a joke that the audience is carried along with; there are the odd winks and nudges when things look as though theyre taking a turn for the serious to lighten things up though there are a couple of scenes of (to me) excessive violence which are there to supposedly give the central character motivation (imagination is never at the forefront with this type of film).

The story itself is nothing new, good guy turned bad, locked up for centuries, accidentally released by workmen, tries to take over the world. Good guys arent powerful enough to stop him, find the chosen one just in time, chosen one saves the day. Now how many films does that remind you of?

The bad guy (former good guy) is a strange one though, he looks like a Korean version of Jesus (at least how were used to seeing him) or a rock star. The action scenes both armed and unarmed are very well choreographed, some of it on a par with Hero and the like but the comedy accent which is quite subtle and genuinely funny (not forced) isnt forgotten and its what makes Arahan stand out in the crowd.

So given the choice of seeing Kung Fu Hustle or Arahan again, Arahan would win hands down.

Recommended rental for light entertainment and a good laugh.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 15 justified for the odd serious violent scenes.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby hengcs » Sat Aug 13, 2005 12:07 pm

Crying Fist (Jumeogi Unda) (2005) (Korea)

Director: Ryu Seung Wan
Cast: Choi Min Sik, Ryu Seung Beom

In Korea Daejong Film Awards (Grand Bell Awards) 2005, it won the Special Jury Award and Best Supporting Actress Award .

Noteworthy, it was nominated for a record of 12 awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actresses, etc

Also, at Cannes Film Festival 2005, it received the FIPRESCI Award (for Directors' Fortnight)

The official website (in Korean) is here

The story of two men is run in separate trajectories. In one, Gang Tae Shik used to be a Silver medalist in the Asian Games. He had however lost his glamour and was down and out, trying to earn money by being a human punching bag on the street. In another, Woo Sang Hwan, a delinquent was filled with rage, committing crimes Neither character knew the other, and expectedly, they had to meet eventually yup, you guess it they finally met at the boxing championship in the final scenes BUT who will win? Will Gang be advantaged because of his better skills or will he lose because age was catching up on him? Will Yoo win because he was young with powerful punches or will he lose because he lacked experience and was too fired up? Hiaks hiaks hiaks I shant give it away

What is good
-- Both characters/stories try to buy the audience in, such that at the end, you may have some struggle as to who you prefer winning both are really down and out both desperately need to win both need some hope in life so, who should you root for?
* Hmmm as for me, I think the story about Gang Tae Shik is more compelling *
-- Why is it such a box office hit in Korea?
I speculate that older men will be able to identify with the life of Gang (about career, about family, about stress, etc) while younger men will also be able to identify with the life of Yoo (about life, about society, about rage and bitterness, etc) . Even women would be able to identify guys in those roles too
-- In addition, I thought the harsh realism depicted in Gangs story was very well captured
-- At the end, some issues that provoke thoughts are what is hope? What is a win? What is family? What is friendship?

What may be problematic for some
-- If at all, it will be the overdose of boxing films in this recent year
-- Some may also try to dissect each episode/vignette and wonder if anything is novel. Well, stories about underdogs are too prevalent (esp. if you have watched too many movies hiaks hiaks ).
* In my humble opinion, it is not about dissecting individual events, but the way the film pieces them together makes it worth watching! *
-- Occasionally, one may find the film a bit too long

-- Although it is rather commercial (i.e., it will please mainstream audience), I still recommend the film!
-- and do tell me who you rooted for

Hey, the director Ryu Seung Wan and Ryu Seung Beom are real life brothers

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Sun Aug 21, 2005 11:40 pm

Jungdok (2002) Addicted

Directed by Young-hoon Park

Starring Byung-hun Lee, Mi-yeon Lee, Eol Lee

Yet another Asian film thats getting an American remake, this time though (unlike everything from Ringu through Oldboy to Shall we Dansu) there shouldnt be any reason to change the story in the slightest way. This film could easily translate to almost any culture as there is nothing specifically Asian about it.

As with Happy End you wont understand the meaning of the title till the end of the film but unlike that you wont have to think about how the title applies. Ho-jin and Dae-jin are brothers, theyre very close despite the fact that theyre very different from each other. Ho-jin, an artist is married to Eun-su, after three years they still send each other love letters and are very happy together. Dae-jin has just completed his national service is single and his addiction appears to be speed, he races cars for a living, they live in the same house and get along really well.

Tragedy strikes both at the same time though, Ho-jin is involved in a car crash that puts him in a coma and Dae-jin suffers a similar fate during a race. Dae-jin pulls out of his coma but starts acting strange, instead of showing interest in cars he suddenly starts creating artworks and furniture just as his brother used to, he claims to be his brother confusing poor Eun-su. The rest of the film is spent trying to work out the truth, has Dae-jin gone mad or is he genuinely possessed by his brothers soul?

Towards the end I was wondering if this would get a Hollywood style finish, Im glad to say the saving grace of the film is that it didnt. It is fairly slow paced and a lot of the acting is performed through the eyes which works very well. Not a must see film by any means but a tragic romantic drama that is well constructed with good acting. Addicted is one film that is likely to appeal to both men and women equally which is a rarity these days.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:58 pm

Palwolui Christmas (199 Christmas in August

Directed by Jin-ho Hur

Starring Suk-kyu Han, Eun-ha Shim

Whereas Ikiru deals with every stage of grief having been told your dying, Christmas in August bypasses the first stages and is already on terms with the final stage, acceptance.

Jung-won runs a small photo shop/studio and is terminally ill, we never find out what hes dying of but that doesnt really matter. Hes obviously been ill for a long time, long enough to have accepted the knowledge that he will soon be gone. He spends his days quietly running the photo shop; drinking with friends and sharing time with his immediate family, his father in particular.

Dar-im is a traffic warden (meter maid) who starts using Jung-wons studio to get pictures of traffic violations developed, within a short time you can feel a mutual attraction developing.

The film is not a romance, nor a lamentation on death, there is little if any sorrow or misery. It is a film about a man preparing, ensuring that life carries on after hes gone, making the most of the time left to be with the people he cares about and sharing what he knows can only be a brief friendship with Dar-im.

Moving and deliberately underplayed acting, some clever cinematographic flourishes and no melodramatics, all in all a quiet but powerful film that may just bring a tear to your eye.

A definite recommendation.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 12

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Wed Aug 24, 2005 5:21 pm

Nae maeumui punggeum (1998 ) The Harmonium in My Memory

Directed by Young-jae Lee

Starring Do-yeon Jeon, Byung-hun Lee

A light romantic drama set in the early 1960s, Hong-yeon an awkward 16-17 year old girl develops a crush on the new teacher at her school, the story is told from her perspective and often throughout the film we hear her thoughts. The teacher is young, fresh out of University and takes the eye of more than a few of the villagers, his eye though is taken by another new teacher at the school, slightly older and with a common love of American music.

This is the set up then for a touching drama where love is ignored or cannot be returned. The pupils are chaotic, education not being their top priority, the fact that most of their parents are illiterate doesnt help but the teacher manages to organise them even quicker than Arnie did in Kindergarten Cop. The village itself provides a good backdrop with a few little scenes to break away (though not detract) from the main story.

A rich colour palette, good acting and a real sense of a living community all help to strengthen what could have been a sickly sweet romance. Do-yeon Jeon in particular is exceptional as Hong-yeon, completely convincing as a shy awkward girl, she was 25 at the time and her performance in this as opposed to her role in the following years Happy End just goes to show what a terrific adaptable actress she is.

The storyline might seem a little familiar to those who've seen Zhang Yimous The Road Home but thats only the basic premise, its certainly not art-house but it is a well played and for the most part a well constructed film.

Overall then well worth seeing especially if youre only used to the Hollywood style romantic dramas.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 12


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