By Lee Hyo-won
Song Kang-ho will return with "Howling" as a detective, one of his signature roles that marked his breakthrough in Bong Joon-ho's "Memories of Murder". The actor says that he has brought a more mature characterization to the upcoming film.
"Male actors are often cast as detectives and gangsters, and I don't try to stay away from these parts. But it's already been eight years since Memories of Murder, and my character in Howling is a bit more humane and sensitive. I think in that sense he is someone with more depth and wisdom", Song told reporters Tuesday in Seoul during a promotional event for the film.
The movie, directed by Yoo Ha ("A Frozen Flower"), is about a veteran officer (Song) who teams up with a young rookie (Lee Na-young) to solve a series of murders involving a mysterious wolfdog. Song noted that Howling takes a step further than most police movies. "Conventional crime dramas show how police investigate a given case and arrest the criminal; Howling does this too but it also enables one to think about the aftermath of this process".
In fact, Yoo decided to direct the film, an adaptation of a Japanese novel by Wasa Nonami, because he was drawn to the drama.
""Howling" is basically a story about marginalized minorities living in the city. The original novel (roughly translated as 'Frozen Canine Tooth') is a psychological drama depicting the thoughts of a female detective who grows sympathetic for a wolfdog. I was intrigued by how this creature is neither wolf nor dog but exhibits both the affability of dogs and the savagery of the wolf", said Yoo. "I hope audiences will be able to look back at the meaning of family and life in general".
While Song has softened up to play his part, his co-star Lee had to toughen up to pull off her first action sequences onscreen. The actress said she was very excited about taking part in the project which involved motorcycle stunts.
"Action is something I've always wanted to do, and I feel there's something really fascinating about it. There have lately been many actresses performing challenging action stunts; I used to think that you could pull it off if you're physically fit and if you could manage to execute sequences smoothly. But I learned a great deal that such scenes involve a lot of mental strength and attention to detail".
Contrary to her delicate image crafted through makeup campaigns, she emphasized her good stamina and how she's open to more heavy action in the future. In fact she found the physical parts relatively easy compared to expressing her character's emotions and speaking police parlance.
Moreover, she wanted to break stereotypes of female cops. "I'm sort of tomboyish in real life... But in the movie I really wanted to challenge the stereotype of female detectives. I didn't want to appear as being particularly androgynous or tough".
The director said Lee's role was both physically and emotionally demanding, and complimented the actress for her effort. "Lee Na-young had to really burn herself out for this movie, which really centered on a female perspective and takes shape from the female cop's lines".
While the film may appear to be a bloody slasher film, Song believes the emotional aspects of the story will better appeal to a female audience.
"There have been a lot of detective movies up to now, but I think this one covers a broad emotional spectrum and leaves a lot of afterthought. It has other elements of entertainment but I think the virtues of the story will really resonate with women in particular".
"Howling", a CJ E&M Pictures release, is slated to open Feb. 9.
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2015 51st PaekSang Arts Awards