Korean Korner

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Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Wed Sep 14, 2005 5:22 pm

Sara I'd be very surprised if you're dissapointed with it, it's still among the best films I've seen this year.

Let us know what you think of it.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Tue Sep 20, 2005 11:16 pm

Siworae (2000) Il Mare

Directed by Hyun-seung Lee

Starring Jung-Jae Lee (Dogme # 7 Interview), Ji-hyun Jun (My Sassy Girl)

A romantic drama based around a house (Il Mare), a dog (Cola), a beautiful girl (Kim Eun-ju), a young architect (Han Sung-hyun) and a magical time teleporting mailbox. This wasn't a huge commercial hit in South Korea but judging by the IMDB rating, it's a big hit with the people who have seen it.

Yet another Korean film getting a Hollywood make-over, will the remake hit the spot? Well have to wait and see, but I have my doubts.

The very amiable cast take us through an easy going storyline of two owners/tenants of a designer house, separated by time yet connected by a mailbox and their attachment to a scruffy little dog, Cola. They correspond via the mailbox, first in disbelief then with growing attachment as they realise the truth in their unique situation. Han Sung-hyun, with the benefit of being in the past is able to see Kim Eun-ju in her slightly younger years and can help her with some minor problems, although of course she is unaware of his help at the time.

They arrange to meet at a set time and date on a beautiful beach on Cheju Island (also featured in Love Wind Love Song) but for some reason Han Sung-hyun fails to turn up. The rest of the film revolves around why he couldn't make it until after some serious heartache and soul searching from Kim Eun-ju the tale reaches its climax and resolution. Will they ever meet? Can they ever meet? The only way youll find out is by watching the film!

Very easy going, light, fluffy and definitely one for a romantic evening. It wont tax your brain but it may well entertain you.

Cheers Trev.

No BBFC rating but no more than a 12.

Region 3 ntsc dvd available from several retailers.

Remake update.

The remake is now on general release starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock and retitled as The Lake House. I'd love to know if anyone has seen it, especially if they have seen both films.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:02 pm

Wonderful Days (2003) Sky Blue

Directed by Moon-saeng Kim, Park Sunmin


An imitation anime from South Korea, the basic plot could have come from any one of dozens of Japanese anime films or series. Its the usual world in a mess, polluted, most of humanity wiped out with a small percentage of the survivors living it up while the rest are just fodder to provide the luxurious lifestyle of the few.

Of course someone is forced to rise up and cause a revolt against the few leaving the world a better place for everyone, ridding the world of the pollution that was deemed necessary to provide the perfect lifestyle for the elite. Its all been done before and with a lot more originality and style, Miyazakis Nausica of the Valley of Wind is the perfect example of a story with a strong environmental message. Wonderful Days aspires to be a Korean Akira but is unfortunately more of a Spriggan, the cliched storyline is only one of its problems.

Graphically, theres a mix of 2D animation for the characters in a 3D computer generated environment, I have yet to see an animation like this work. A lot of scale models were also used then ditgitised to fit in with the overall look but they stand out like a sore thumb. CG only works with 2D animation when it is used sparingly and sympathetically within the style of the animation.

A plus point, a really nice sound track with a good variety of music that blends well together and within the context of the film.

I cant recommend this because of the Clichd plot, the bizarre mix of animation styles and the fact that it is sheer plagiarism.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15.

Available on region 3 ntsc dvd.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby hengcs » Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:58 am

A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan Insaeng) (2005) (Korea)

Director: Kim Ji Woon
Cast: Lee Byung Hun, Hwang Jung-min, Shin Min-a, Kim Roeha, Lee Kiyoung, Oh Dalsoo, Kim Young-chul

The official website is here ...

And the trailer (with English subtitles) can be found here ...

The film was invited to Cannes Film Festival 2005 ...

In the recent Korean Grand Bell Awards , it won the Best Supporting Actor award ... but was nominated for many categories, incl. Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor ...

While the overall story hinges on revenge, it can also claim to be a story about chaos (in life) (i.e., the unpredictability in life ... can one really control one's life?), or a story about triad, or a story about forbidden love, or a story of betrayal (or being loyal), or a story about admitting mistakes ...

What is commendable?
-- Well, the opening and ending have 2 rather philosophical tales ... which I like

For the opening,
The disciple saw the branches of the trees swaying and asked the Master, "Is it the branches that is moving? or is it the wind that is moving?"
Without even looking at where he is pointing, the master replied, "That which is moving is your heart and mind!"

For the ending,
The disciple awoke from his sleep crying profusely ...
The master asked, "Did you have a nightmare?"
The disciple replied, "No ..."
The master asked again, "Then it has to be a very sad dream ..."
The disciple replied again, "No ..."
The master wondered, "Then what was the dream about?"
The disciple answered, "It was one of the best dreams I have had ..."
The master was puzzled, "Then why are you crying?"
The disciple sobbed, "Because it will never be realized ..."

-- The performance of Lee Byung Hun and Hwang Jung-min
-- Quite "stylish" filming of violence

What is problematic ...
-- As it was originally meant to be a 2 hr 50 min (or so) film, the theatrical version (about 2 hrs) might lack some character development (or plot "convincing") ...
-- So, unless you have come across such stories/behavior, or unless you have come across the way some triads act, or unless you understand how in some society, "loyalty/truth" (i.e., "not lying") is valued, or unless you realize that for many triads, falling in love with your chief's "woman" is doomed, you may not understand what underlies such cruelty, nasty treatment and ultimately, vengeance in the film...
-- Hence, to some, the film really borders at violence for violence sake ...

Well, this commercial film will please audience who like to see violence that is filmed rather "stylishly" ... or those who like to see Lee Byung Hun and Hwang Jung-min …

Re: Korean Korner

Postby hengcs » Wed Sep 28, 2005 12:54 am

A Moment To Remember (2004) (Korea)
(I have edited my review slightly and provided the trailer)

Director: Lee Jae-han
Cast: Jeong Woo-seong, Son Ye-jin

In the recent Korea Grand Bell Awards , it garnered the Best Screenplay, Adaptation.

See trailer (in Korean) here …

hee hee … given that I am an Asian, I have to admit it is a very Asian melodrama … (be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc)
So, if you like Asian TV melodrama, you will like the movie … ;)

Well, it starts off with the typical comedy/humor in courtship … and it ends with the typical tear jerking romance …

So, what makes it good?
-- This scene makes a lot of audience tear …
i.e., the gal looked at the guy very dearly in the eyes, but called her ex lover's name instead (due to loss in memory) and uttered she loved him (the new lover) … and he had to hold back his tears and pretend nothing was wrong (as if she had called him correctly, and still believing that she loved him instead of the ex lover …) and replied he loved her too … sob sob …
-- I guess the cast helps to make it believable, and the movie does not waste too much time on any event or episode … which may drag the plot down …
-- While the story is not exactly original or novel (at least in Asia), it does have some cryptic/philosophical lines …
e.g., To forget easily is a gift …
e.g., I met you when I was forgetful, and I left you when I became forgetful …
e.g., Forgiveness is about giving your hate just a little room in your heart …
-- I also like the line/question in the last scene …
e.g., Is this heaven? (with dual meaning …)
;) What may be weak?
-- Since the last half of the movie is grounded on an important event … the audience have to buy what happens … that it is indeed plausible albeit uncommon … if you refuse to believe what happens … then everything is kind of ridiculous …
-- Also, due to editing (as opposed to the director's cut), the audience may find a few events not convincing nor well explained …

In essence, it is just a simple story that is well told …
If you like Asian TV melodrama, you will like the movie …

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Sat Oct 08, 2005 11:24 am

R-Point (2004)

Directed by Su-chang Kong

Starring Woo-seong Kam

A disappointing start to Tartans Asia extreme tour 2005 at least IMHO.

This is a weak story of a platoon of Korean soldiers during the Vietnam war who are sent to R-Point to try and find out what happened to a previous group. R-Point itself turns out to be a misty area of land with a warning message carved in stone. A long time before the area had been a lake but a massacre had taken place, the Chinese killed hundreds of Vietnamese and had discarded their bodies into the lake, they then filled in the lake and a large temple had been built atop it. The warning stated that anyone who entered the area and had shed blood would not leave there alive.

The problems with the film are down to several things, its supposed to be a War/Horror movie but is lacking in both areas. The actors for the most part were awful, these are experienced troops, most of them held the rank of Sergeant yet when anything slightly strange happened they ran around like a bunch of headless chickens (I was going to say like a group of schoolgirls but thats an insult to them). The editing was all to pot, leaving you wondering what the hell was going on as characters would just disappear and end up somewhere completely different without any sense or reasoning.

The actual setting for the film was terrific very photogenic, although Im sure some of it must have been filmed in the ruined temples in Cambodia that have appeared in several other films. The atmosphere was also good, dank, misty and mysterious, nicely done.

If it was meant as some sort of antiwar statement, it failed! As a horror movie, its too generic and fails. I did get the impression of a film trying to be too many different things instead of concentrating its strengths and pulling off something far more memorable, the one thing I will say, it lasted almost 2 hours and I cant say it bored me.

It did pique my interest finding out that South Korean troops fought in the Vietnam War, something I was unaware of, I just wonder if they were there under pressure from the US as has been the case for several countries with the war in Iraq.

So a mediocre start to this selection of films, not boring but so much weaker than I had expected.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:06 pm

Telmisseomding (1999) Tell Me Something

Directed by Yoon-Hyun Chang

Starring Shim Eun-ha (Christmas in August, Art Museum by the Zoo), Han Suk-kyu (Christmas in August, Shiri)

Film number three in the Tartan Asia extreme tour 2005.

Memories of Murder dealt with the stupidity and incompetence of the police in the mid eighties and was very loosely based on a real unsolved case. Judging by Tell Me Something the police arent as incompetent these days, theyre even worse.

The film starts with a gruesome dissection taking place, blood flows freely as the scalpel slices slowly and carefully through the skin (I queried the flow of blood but the answer was given later). Following this body parts start appearing around Seoul in black bags, all the parts are there but they dont connect, they have come from a few different people. Further mixtures of body parts are found in different locations until one is identified by his dental records.

The police manage to connect the head to a museum curator Chae Su-Yeon who manages to identify the (by now) three heads found, they are people who have been lovers in her past so the killer obviously has a connection, if not very unhealthy obsession with her. They pick up a male friend of hers and grill him, he definitely qualifies under unhealthy obsession and he becomes the main suspect until parts of his body turn up.

Delving into Su-Yeons past, we discover she was abused by her father as a child, now the father has disappeared and again becomes chief suspect until, yes youve guessed it!

As for the police, theyre bloody clueless! The main one Detective Cho almost gets run over twice yet fails to get any details of the car, other things give away his total stupidity (or should that be gullibility) but to explain them would give away too much of the story.

Other reviews have compared the film to Se7en and Silence of the Lambs but to be honest, each of those were far stronger and more competent, this is more in the league of Basic Instinct but without the sex, it is superior to the similar German film Tattoo though.

To be fair the actors are good (although I preferred the two main stars in another joint vehicle Christmas in August) there are some very good set pieces, like the multiple pile up caused by a bag of body parts. Also because of its construction it almost demands a second viewing.

Not bad but there are far better ones out there, worth a rental if you like this kind of film.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 18.


Dvd update.

R2 dvd available from Tartan video.

Good picture transfer.
Excellent audio - stereo, 5.1 and stunning DTS.
Extras - short making of concentrating on the body pieces, trailer and music video.

Second viewing, although it has risen slightly in my estimation, it doesn't match up to "Memories of Murder" but is certainly better than "H".

At least South Korea can be glad that they have had more films concerning serial killers than they've actually had serial killers.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby Unregistered(d) » Sun Oct 23, 2005 1:42 pm

eric, thanks for list of films - I've bought 7 so far!!!

Re: Korean Korner

Postby Unregistered(d) » Sun Oct 23, 2005 1:46 pm

trevor 826, Hi, I saw my first Korean film "Memories of Murder" and was hooked since!!
You list has saved me blundering through titles on HK & Korean dvd web sites buying hit and miss movies. A BIG thank you!!

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Sun Oct 23, 2005 3:04 pm

Thank's renard70, I'm glad you enjoyed "Memories of Murder", it's a very well constructed and gripping film.

Hopefully you'll be able to recommend some films as well.

Cheers Trev.


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