Korean Korner

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Re: Korean Korner

Postby smurfrevolt » Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:53 am

Finally saw Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. did anyone review this film before?

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:55 pm

smurfrevolt, I have written brief comments, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the film though.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby smurfrevolt » Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:38 am

I enjoyed this film a lot and i loved details like when the deaf guy and his girlfriend are conversing thru sign language, there is a mirror in front of them, and for some reason, I like the character of the deaf guy--he's just so endearing...I'm not too sure if that sort of kidney "trade" really goes on in korea, but it could be true...

However, it does have Old Boy to live up to. I don't think it quite makes it, but it is a great film nonetheless. Although I have a bit of a problem with the ending when he's also (oooops, spoiler) ...anyway, i guess it's a commentary on the absurdity of it all.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:42 am

Hi smurfrevolt, thanks for your comments. Re, organ theft/trade, there was a large gang busted in Korea in January this year, the leader was a pastor News link. (go fig!).

I prefer the down to earth approach of SfMV to the almost cartoonish Oldboy but if I just want pure entertainment, I'd pick Oldboy.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:06 am

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) Chinjeolhan geumjassi

Directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, JSA)

Starring Lee Yeong-ae (JSA) Choi Min-sik (Oldboy, Crying Fist)

The third and obviously final instalment in Park Chan-wooks revenge trilogy feels like a weak pastiche of the first two plus, for me there also appeared to be a strong Tarantino/ Kill Bill influence.

The basic plot revolves around a 19 year old girl, Lee Geum-ja (Lee Yeong-ae) being wrongly convicted and imprisoned (due to her confession) for the kidnapping and murder of a five year old boy. Giving the impression
of being a model prisoner she bides her time till her release when she can take revenge on the real abductor and killer.

After a beautiful intro sequence with baroque music, we are treated to bits and pieces of the story as we jump back and forth in time. Each time a new relevant character is introduced we are treated to a flashback as to how they first met, (usually in prison) and find out what their part in the act of revenge will be.

Choi Min-sik plays the real killer (Mr Baek) who used Geum-jas baby daughter as collateral threatening to kill the child if she does not confess to the crimes. After finding evidence of even more crimes, Geum-ja and her former arresting officer confine Mr Baek in an old barracks and take part along with others in exacting their revenge.

The first 90 minutes cover Geum-jas release with continuous flashbacks to her arrest and time in prison, the tone is light, like a cross between Oldboy and Kill Bill but with very little violence and a much lighter sense of humour, (the long imprisonment also attaches it to Oldboy).

During the last 20 minutes or so there is a dramatic mood change, the story which started with a bungled kidnapping of a child (as with Sympathy for Mr Vengeance) leads into far deeper darker territory as the act of revenge takes place in an extremely brutal manner.

The film is a mash of styles, incohesive and disparate in tone, a case of style over substance leading to a very unbalanced story. Definitely the weakest of the trilogy, it is well worth seeing if you enjoyed the previous two but it doesn't have the strong albeit bleak storyline of the first or the outrageous set pieces and black humour of the second.

Loved the music, the sly digs at organised religion and the central performances, disliked the sudden change of intensity and atmosphere (just as I didnt with Ab-normal Beauty).

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 18

Region 3 ntsc dvds available from several suppliers. R2 Pal dvd will be released by Tartan later this year.


R2 dvd update.

Tartan Video's release maintains their high standard of picture quality, sound options include stereo, dolby 5.1 and an excellent DTS track.

Rather sparse on the extras though, a theatrical trailer and interview with Park Chan-wook plus product trailers.

I'll write more on the interview once I've seen it.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:49 am

Sorry to hear that; I was looking forward to it. (Just kiddin' .) Many Kim Ki-duk films came out in the U.S. last year. It seems like this year belongs to Hong Sang-soo -- an extremely talented filmmaker who's yet to reach his full potential. It is encouraging to see other filmmakers, who may not have won a grand jury prize at Cannes, getting a bit more exposure.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:48 am

Re: Lady Vengeance, I associated the dramatic mood change of the film with a similar change in Ab-normal Beauty and thinking about it, both changes happened with the discovery of snuff style video tapes, talk about plagiarism.

I really believe Park Chan-wook wants to become the Korean Tarantino, apart from the use of flashbacks in a very similar way to Kill Bill he's obviously plundered the pulp B Movie stylings of "Female Prison" dramas and "snuff movies".

The film has a good rating on IMDB and I think the majority of "Oldboy" fans in particular will be more than happy with it.

Cheers Trev.

P.S I have two Hong Sang-soo reviews to redo and one I should have done early this year, I'll try and sort them out asap.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Wed Mar 08, 2006 7:59 pm

Into the Mirror (2003) Geoul sokeuro

Directed by Seong-ho Kim

Starring Yu Ji-tae (Ditto), Kim Myeong-min

Original concept, adequate cast, high production values, yawn absolutely soulless, uninspiring, bland and boring.

I saw this two years ago and thought it was pretty weak, since I wanted to cover a batch of Asian horror films (and because it was very cheap) I thought Id refresh my memory and rented the dvd. It wasnt as bad as I remembered, it was worse! Very slack pacing, terrible script and hackneyed performances dont exactly add up to a winner and it drags on and on and on, it may have been bearable at 90 minutes but it literally crawls towards the 2 hour mark.

The basics: Strange deaths are occurring in a new shopping centre that has replaced one which was destroyed by fire. The security chief is an ex cop who left the force after causing the death of his partner; he teams up with the police to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic losses. Could they be suicides? Is there a serial killer? Perhaps it has something to do with the ghost that people have mentioned seeing late at night? I wonder if youll care by the end of the film, I didnt.

The shopping centre makes for a marvellous setting, mirrors everywhere and even where there are no mirrors you get reflections from puddles or windows, there is some clever camera work so at times youre unsure as to whether what you are seeing is real or a mirror image/reflection or illusion. I think a lot of the problems with the film boil down to the director coming up with a great idea but forgetting to make it interesting, engaging or well structured.

After all the hoo-ha its just another hackneyed female ghost seeking retribution against those that lead to her death. It doesnt finish there though, a final attempt is made to provide an original twist, unfortunately this only helps to make it feel like a story from Tales of the Unexpected, definitely too little too late.

If mirrors scare you then who knows, this film may work for you. Personally, the scariest thing Ive seen in a mirror is my own reflection, especially first thing in the morning.

So in my opinion its one to avoid, despite the original concepts, it is a snore-fest, the plot is too drawn out and the characters are instantly forgettable (not good for what is, essentially a character driven movie).

Something that is strange for such a mediocre film, the dvd is outstanding in terms of extras, apart from a commentary you also have the whole film in storyboards and countless other extras, in fact well over 5 hours worth. A great example of what can be done with dvds, just a shame the film doesnt really benefit from or deserve it.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 15

R2 dvd available from Tartan Video. R3 ntsc dvd available from several suppliers.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:17 am

Ring Virus (1999) Ring

Directed by Dong-bin Kim

Starring Eun-Kyung Shin (Uzumaki, My Wife Is a Gangster), Bae Du-na (Take Care of My Cat, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance)

A Korean adaptation of Ringu, if youve seen that or the U.S. remake youll know this is a modern Urban legend concerning a video that brings death a week after its been viewed. The story follows the same well-trodden path as the original and is apparently more faithful to the source novel, despite this it does feel lacking in comparison.

With Ringu you get a real sense of danger and urgency, trails are followed and clues uncovered in a way that feels right, you know why the reporter and her ex husband go to the Island or visit a particular location. These points and the fact that the actors give strong performances make Ringu stand tall in the mire of recent Asian horror films.

Unfortunately none of these are attributable to Ring Virus, why they go where they do or their actions when they get there, the sense of any real urgency, these are missing along with convincing performances and a real tangible sense of dread and danger. I have no problem with films that are slow paced but it doesnt really fit within this story, everyone seems laid back and theres no real spark between the reporter and her ex or even between mother and child.

I was expecting a pretty bad adaptation but it was better than expected and without the original may have appeared to be a reasonably good and thoughtful film, unfortunately (at least in my opinion) it feels second rate or even amateurish compared to Ringu despite or maybe because it stayed truer to its source. The musical score for Ring Virus was interesting, probably the best feature of the film but the camerawork, acting and editing were very average.

A further negative point is the dvd, Tai-seng again with a very poor transfer both visually and aurally, they really need to improve their standards to stay in the game, especially since theyre competing with companies like Tartan and Optimum, both of whom have produced stunning transfers and extras even if the films have been fairly average.

Only recommended for a variation on a theme, one for the Ring nut or completist.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 15

R2 Pal dvd available from Tai-seng. R1 ntsc dvd also available from Tai-seng but appears to be an improvement over the R2 release.

Re: Korean Korner

Postby trevor826 » Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:24 pm

Doll Master (2004) Inhyeongsa

Directed by Yong-ki Jeong

Starring Yu-mi Kim (Phone), Ji-young Ok (Take Care of My Cat)

Right I wont waste my time or yours. Very typical horror plot, people invited to mansion, creepy place, one by one people die. Usually one or two survive, end of story.

Now if you want a horror film this fails miserably, predictable, corny and dumbfoundedly stupid!

The only way youll get a kick out of this is if youre a fan or collector of Asian Ball Joint Dolls, apparently there are vast numbers of people all over the world who trade and collect them through the internet. If you are one of these or someone who gets genuinely freaked out by dolls or puppets then you will love this film. If not then dont waste your time.

The dvd extras will also please fans of Asian BJDs (as they are known in fan circles), apart from a 45 minute making of feature there are interviews with the doll designers who are just as nuts as the fans. They explain how to make the most of your dolls as well as showing the craftsmanship that goes into them.

Great for BJD fans, not so good for everyone else.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 15

R2 Pal dvd available from Optimum. R3 ntsc available from several suppliers.


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