By Han Sang-hee
The buzz has not started quite yet, but the three names that appear on the poster of the new film "The Yellow Sea"
will likely be more than enough to have local cineastes marking their calendars.
Director Na Hong-jin
captivated viewers with his debut thriller "The Chaser"
last year, and he is joining hands with the same cast — actors Kim Yun-seok
and Ha Jung-woo
— for his new action thriller slated for release next month.
"As I started to build up the story and scenario, the two actors just popped into my head. I didn't worry about it becoming something like a sequel to "The Chaser"
, because it's not. ("The Yellow Sea"
) is a completely different movie", Na said during a press conference at a movie theater in northern Seoul, Tuesday, where the two actors were also present.
"If "The Chaser"
didn't give viewers the chance to breathe, holding onto their seats scene after scene, "The Yellow Sea"
will have the viewers peeking into the emotions of the characters. Because emotions are pretty subjective, I think there will be more room for various ideas and perspectives depending on the viewer", Kim added.
The storyline may be a bit different, but the new flick may remind viewers of Na's first feature film as it actually has similar components: rough, mysterious male characters, secrets and betrayals, chases and, most of all, real drama.
Gu-nam (Ha) is a taxi driver in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China. His wife left for Korea to earn money, but their debt just keeps piling up and Gu-nam loses contact with her. With no hope and desire to pay back his debt, let alone pick himself up from his misery, Gu-nam bumps into Myeon Jeong-hak, who offers to pay his debt if he agrees to kill someone in Korea.
The desperate and hopeless Gu-nam shakes hands with the mysterious gunslinger, but things take a turn when the man he is supposed to strike is killed by someone else. Now both Gu-nam and Myeon are in trouble, and they both get tangled up in a cat and mouse chase not knowing who the real villain is.
"To sum up the storyline into one sentence, it's about a man from Yanbian and his desperate search for his wife. There are murders and chases, but that's the main plot", Kim said, adding that the details are so real, it may even feel like "watching a 4D film".
The preview of the film proved that he was not joking about the details. From Ha's blank, sorrowful eyes to Kim's greedy and hair-raising smirks, the actors transformed themselves into the characters perfectly, making the viewer feel like they were actually next to Gu-nam, wandering the streets of Seoul, running for his life after being accused of a murder he didn't commit and staring at his wife's picture with empty eyes.
The two actors said it was especially an honor to work from start to finish in the filmmaking process with the director, as it helped them become more attached to the film and also have the chance to evolve with it as it grew day after day.
"Na is excellent in creating a story that is relatable to everyone and bringing it to life on the big screen. If you really think about it, his stories are not about that particular character, but about you and me, about relationships, family, betrayal and love", Ha said.
"The Yellow Sea"
will be in theaters Dec. 22 and distributed by Showbox.