Panos Kotzathanasis is a film critic and reviewer specialising in East Asian Cinema. He is the founder of Asian Film Vault, administrator of Asian Movie Pulse and also writes for Taste of Cinema, Eastern Kicks, China Policy Institute and Filmboy. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Panos Kotzathanasis can be contacted via email@example.com.
My exploration of Bae Chang-ho's cinema continues with a rather different film, since it takes place in the Joseon era, and focuses not on narrative, but on visuals, in a rather arthouse approach. Let us take things from the beginning though...More
Mixing an action thriller with a crime thriller is always a good idea, particularly when we are talking about Korean cinema, where the two genres are among the most popular and financially successful. Expectantly, the film was a commercial success in 2006. Let us take things from the beginning though...More
Similarly with his debut, but also on a much higher level, Bae Chang-ho presents another multilayered drama about the human psyche, although this time the base is that of a thriller, instead of a social film, which seems to share some semblance with Hitchcock's style...More
Bae Chang-ho's debut feature was not an easy one to make. Although the source material, Lee Dong-chul's semi-autobiographical novel, was a best seller, Bae had to face government censors, which, at a time when Chun Doo Hwan's regime was at a fool bloom after a violent suppression of civil unrest, were at the pick of their power and of their strictness. Even before the start of production, the script was rejected five times and the censors listed 60 elements that they wanted changed. The requested changes included the film's title, the attitude of policemen towards the slum residents, and a husband pulling on his wife's hair during a fight...More
When one hears about a film that is the official one of the Winter Olympics (in this case of Pyeongchang Winter Olympics,) and that the director is appointed to shoot it, one is, inevitably, led to think that the effort would be one of glorification, almost completely stripped of objectivity, a promotional work, in essence. And although these elements are still present, Yi Seung-Jun has managed to shoot a documentary that is much more than a promotional piece, by focusing on stories of actual people, not all of which are characterized by athletic triumphs...More
Based on the homonymous novel by Lee O-young, "The General's Mustache" presents a rather unusual approach to the crime drama, as it initially starts as a usual entry in the category, but eventually turns into an existential, social film filled with philosophical but also melodramatic elements...More
Based on the homonymous, and quite successful novel by Kim Seong-jong, including elements of crime thriller with a historic twist about North Korean POWs, and featuring a big budget and an impressive cast headed by Lee Jung-jae and Ahn Sung-ki, "The Last Witness" had all the elements to become a masterpiece. Let us see if it succeeded though...More
I have to admit that comedies are not exactly my favorite genre. However, occasionally I do indulge in the category, and "A Tale of Legendary Libido", with its description of a sexually charged, filled with gags one seemed like a nice enough choice. Let us see if it lived up to its "hype", though...More
Winner of the Baeksang award for Best Film and by the Korean Association of Film Critics for Best Actor, "Village of Haze" (aka "Village in the Mist") is a great sample of the legendary Im Kwon-taek's contemporary filmography...More
Winner of the Citizen Critics' Award at Busan International Film Festival in 2017, "Possible Faces" is a genuine art-house portrait that focuses on presenting the lives of its ordinary characters with as much realism as possible...More
In his latest endeavors, festival-favorite Hong Sang-soo has transferred his virtues to the monochrome world, "taming" at the same time his auteur style, which has become much more approachable. "Hotel by the River" is a testament to the fact...More
The second feature of festival favorite Zhang Lu is one of his most acclaimed works, winning awards in Cannes, Busan and Vesoul, and presented in festivals all over the world. The film deals with the Korean Chinese (Zhang Lu's ethnicity) one of the recognized ethnic minorities in China, comprising about 2.7 million citizens. Korean Chinese are spread throughout the country, and their group situation is consequently invisible to other Chinese, though many have difficulties integrating into society...More
Winner of a number of awards, particularly for Lee Yoon-ki and the protagonist, Kim Ji-soo, "This Charming Girl" was an impressive debut for a director who still holds the interest of the public, with films like his latest, "One Day"...More
The Korean art-house scene is influenced to a very high degree by Hong Sang-soo, through a number of mentorships and efforts to "copy" his style. Park Chan-ok debut feature, which falls under the first category, is one of the most successful efforts, as it netted her awards from a number of domestic and international festivals, including Tokyo, Rotterdam and Busan, with the success extending to the protagonist, Park Hae-il...More
Winner of the Grand Prize of the Korean Competition in the 2018 Jeonju International Film Festival, "The Land of Seonghye" is a very realistic portrait of the difficulties young Korean people face nowadays, professionally and personally...More
As we saw recently in the article about "Nowhere To Hide", Lee Myung-se has a tendency of taking films that could be easily categorized as genre ones, and present them in a unique way, mostly through his visuals and narrative style. This tendency finds its apogee in "M", a film whose basic premise is that of the psychological thriller, but its presentation, completely different...More
I have repeatedly mention that the new "Golden Era" of Korean cinema was headed by the plethora of great crime thrillers that were released during the 00's and the 10's ("Mother - 2009", "The Chaser", "I Saw the Devil", Park Chan-wook, etc). However, the genre also had successes before that time, as "Nowhere To Hide", which won a number of awards both locally and internationally, eloquently proves. Furthermore, Lee Myung-se's film manages to stand out from the vast plethora of similar titles due to its presentation, which actually uses the crime thriller aspect as a base for artistic "experimentations"...More
Lee Man-hee-I is one of the most significant Korean directors that worked in the 60 and the 70s', with films like the present one, "The Marines Who Never Returned", "Late Autumn" (a now lost film which has been remade a number of times in Korean cinema), "Break up the Chain" and many more. "A Water Mill" is among his greatest works...More
The film that launched Moon Hee's career is a testament to its times (1966), particularly regarding the youths of the country and their search for an identity after the Korean war, when the whole country was experiencing a crisis on all fronts...More
The Korean Film Archive channel is filled with movies taking place in secluded areas, like villages in the mountains and remote islands. "The Seashore Village" is definitely among the best, as it implements a different approach, focusing, almost exclusively, on women, who, as we are about to see, were much less bound by the "rules" of social conduct than their mainland counterparts. Let us take things from the beginning, though...More
Winner of the Best Film award at the 1967 Blue Dragon, "Flame in the Valley" is a quintessential anti-war movie, and one of the best titles I have watched in my "endeavors" with the Korean Classic Film Archive...More
Films of lesbian interest seem to have become a minor trend in the Korean indie film industry, and Han Ka-ram, in her debut, uses the concept in its most subtle form, in order to present a number of social comments...More
Films about the "underground" fights of the spy agencies of North and South Korea have been one of the most significant trends of contemporary Korean cinema. It is interesting, however, to look at how a movie like that would be presented in 1954, just a year after the ending of the Korean War, when the animosity between the two Koreas reached one of its apogees. Han Hyeong-mo presents exactly that with "The Hand of Destiny". Furthermore, the film presents the first onscreen kiss in a South Korean movie, an event which, reportedly, made the recipient housewives whose eyes were beholden to the screen to emit gasps during the infamous scene. (source: koreanfilm.org)...More
Among the 34 features Kim Ki-young directed, "A Woman After a Killer Butterfly" remains one of the most noteworthy, although in this case, not just due to its quality as a film, but most due to its unusualness, since Kim exceeds the borders of the absurd and the supernatural here, along with his omnipresent melodrama...More
In a rather tumultuous period for him, with the accusations about his horrendous treatment of female actors in his films becoming public, and, let's face it, the lack of the quality that made him an international sensation in his latest works, it is good to see Kim Ki-duk back on form, in the style that has made him both famous and the object of controversy...More
Considered one of the most realistic films about daily life in postwar 1950's Seoul, "The Flower in Hell" is a truly great film that highlights the circumstances of the lower classes during the era in the best way. Director Shin Sang-ok had shared an apartment with a prostitute in order to live more comfortably rather than sharing a one-room evacuation apartment with several families, giving him insight in the subject of the production...More
The late Lee Man-hee-I was one of the most important Korean filmmakers in the 1960s and 70s, with his reputation deriving from his work on genre cinema, in an era where the local industry had not yet embraced horrors and thrillers. "Break up the Chain" is one of his trademark works, a western set in Manchuria which was actually the inspiration behind Kim Jee-woon's "The Good, the Bad, the Weird"...More
Kim Ki-young is considered one of the greatest Korean directors, particularly due to the 1960 film, "The Housemaid - 1960", which is considered by many the greatest achievement of Korean cinema. In "Woman of Fire", the second part of his "Housemaid Trilogy", Kim revisits the theme of the first film, adding a number of elements and a contemporary visual style, in an effort that earned him a Best Director Award from Blue Dragon...More
With a base focused on showing the blights of capitalism towards the traditional way of life, "Ieodo" (or "Ieoh Island" as it is also known) soon reveals its true, thriller-like nature, through a quite complex narrative that includes flashbacks into flashbacks, and an atmosphere that thrives on ritualism...More
Jero Yun was born in Busan in 1980. At the age of 13, he entered the atelier of drawing and painting. After studying at Busan Design High school, he began to study classic art at university in 1998. In 2001, he arrived in France, continued his studies in Beaux-arts de Nancy, and then in ENSAD (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris) where he studied classic cinema and documentary. In 2008, he entered the Le Fresnoy where he directed the middle-length feature film "In the Dark", which was shot in Korea, and the short film "Red Road" that selected in several international festivals...More
I have to admit, before watching this film, I did not know that Koreans also dwelled on the b-movie, exploitation region, in a style much similar to the one implemented by Seijun Suzuki in his Japanese films. Park Nou-sik, however, who was mostly known for his plethora of action roles in his career, manages to direct just that, while inducing it with the elements of the predominant Korean genre, the melodrama...More
Probably among the best family dramas Asia has to offer this year, "Last Child" presents a truly shuttering story, where layers of drama are placed atop one another, in a style that has much in common with the ancient Greek tragedy...More
Director Lee Il-ha was born in Korea and has lived in Japan since 2000. Lee has worked with Japanese and Korean broadcasters such as NHK and MBC. Lee's first feature film", A Crybaby Boxing Club", tells the story of high school boxers' growing pain at a Korean-Japanese minority school in Tokyo. The film was chosen for the opening film of 2014 DMZ International Documentary Festival. With his new film, "Counters", director Lee questions the meaning of freedom and justice in the era of far-right conservatism...More
The rise of the extreme right to the point of fascism, and the racism associated with it have been on the rise for quite some time now, unfortunately on a global level. Japan has quite a past in this concept, with the history of the country always leaning towards the right; however, since 2013, the extreme right-racist groups have been on the rise, having organized more than 1000 speeches around the nation, with 329 of them taking place in 2016, when most of this documentary takes place...More
In the abundance of romantic comedies released in S. Korea, it is nice to see a production that stands completely apart, through a rather interesting sense of humor that shapes its approach towards the subject of marriage and extramarital affairs...More
Joseon films are quite common in the Korean film industry, but the same does not apply to martial arts ones, which seems one of the genres least favored in the country. Kim Hong-seon-I presents a combination of the two, in production that is more than fittingly titled...More
Films about school bullying have been released in abundance during the latest years, with productions like "Pluto", "Thread of Lies", and "King of Pigs", among others. Kim Ui-seok presents his own take on the subject in his feature debut, implementing a rather dark approach and aesthetics quite similar to the ones in Japanese cinema, which eventually netted him the New Currents Awards in Busan. Let us take things from the beginning though...More
Despite the rather extreme title, which points both at a melodrama and an exploitation film, "Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women" is actually a quite significant film for the Korean movie industry, since it was the first one to screen in the "Un Certain Regard" section of the Cannes Film Festival. Furthermore, the depiction of the hardships women had to face during the Joseon Dynasty spawned much controversy, by many who believed that the events depicted in the film were hyperbolic...More
In an era (the 80's) where Korean national cinema was relegated to rapidly produced films whose sole purpose was to earn the quota in order to screen Hollywood movies, Lee Jang-ho's effort stands out for its experimental nature and social critique, which eventually netted it the 9th (11th) place in the list with the 100 Best Korean Films of All Time, as comprised by the Korean Film Archive. The film received favorable reviews both domestically and internationally at the time, and was actually a box-office success...More
During the 80's, and particularly due to the Korean government's gradual relaxation of censorship and control over the film industry, a new genre was introduced to the public and became quite popular very quickly. The genre was titled "Folk Erotic", and "Mulberry" was among the most famous entries, spawning two sequels and a 2014 remake...More
Considered by many as the best Korean movie ever made, "The Aimless Bullet" is a true masterpiece, and ode to realism focusing on the lives of the non-privileged in the country, in the post-armistice period. The then government banned "Obaltan" (its Korean name) because of its unremittingly downbeat depiction of life in post-armistice South Korea...More
In his short-lived life (April 13, 1941 - February 28, 1979), Ha Gil-jong managed to have quite an impact in Korean cinema, particularly through the present film, which, despite severe censorship from the then authorities, managed to become a big hit at the time of its release, in 1975...More
As we saw in the review of his debut, "Chilsu and Mansu", Park Kwang-soo explored the socioeconomical and political aftermath of the Gwangju massacre, in a style filled with realism and pessimistic drama, which has nothing to do with the kind of happy-go-lucky approach of current movies about the subject, such as "A Taxi Driver". This approach is even more intense and pessimistic in "Black Republic"...More
Ma Dong-seok has risen to the status of superstar quite quickly during the last years, and "Champion" is a film that definitely benefits from the fact, as it focuses mainly on him and his physique, in order to present a production that combines comedy with arm wrestling, along with some elements of drama...More
If one was to look for the direct roots of contemporary Korean, one should not look much further than Park Kwang-soo's debut, a wonderful sociopolitical allegory based on a rather unusual friendship between two men.
1988 was the year of the Seoul Olympics, and a time of great political and social change for South Korea. Massive street protests against the military government and on behalf of workers' rights had recently reached their peak. However, the Korean society portrayed through cinema in those days little resembled the passions on display in the street. Government censors, wielding an iron grip over the film industry, ensured that the slightest hint of social criticism was clipped in the screenplay or in the editing room before reaching audiences...More
Korean indie films are not exactly the most well known product of the local industry (apart from Hong Sang-soo that is), at least outside of the country (the opposite actually). This fact, however, does not mean that these movies lack in quality, as we have seen in productions like "Merry Christmas Mr Mo", for example. Kim Hun presents another entry in the category, which is quite unusual, since his aesthetics are very similar to those of Japanese indie movies. Let us take things from the beginning, though...More
The Korean presence in the Vietnam War has recently come to the fore, particularly through "Ode to My Father", which took a dramatic, but entertainment-focused approach to the actual events. If one was to see the real circumstances of the Koreans who fought there, though, one should look no further than "White Badge"...More
His next film, "Oasis", was a transitional one, since his focus started to change from male characters to female, although in the particular movie, it lies in both. At the same time, his way of shooting also changed. As Lee states: "I used to plan everything out and shoot the scenes accordingly, but with "Oasis", I tried not to script things. If I saw a pattern, I changed it. If you script things, you can only see the emotions of the main characters. We went through many takes with the supporting actors. And sometimes for the extras also. I think everything in the frame influences the main character's emotions. If their actions contradict this in any way, it can dilute the emotion. That's why I was so picky about these small details. Sol Kyung-gu told me that I could only see the drawbacks" (Source: Kim Young-jin, "Lee Chang-dong", Seoul, Korean Film Council, 2007)...More
Considered by many as the greatest contemporary Korean filmmaker, Lee Chang-dong is a truly rare case in the peninsula's cinema, both due to his impressive filmography and the rather unusual (unconventional if you prefer) path he followed in his life, which brought him from a teacher's position to the seat of the Minister of Culture. Let us take things from the beginning though.
(Since his films have been analyzed to the fullest, I have included only my personal comments on each one)
Lee Chang-dong was born July 4, 1954 in Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province, a city considered by many as the most conservative (and rightist) in the country, to lower middle class parents, who were leaning to the left, particularly his father, who was an idealist who never had a job, thus forcing his wife to work hard in order to support the family. On the other hand, his family came from noble class of the old Korea, and this contradiction, of growing up in a ruined, ex-noble family with communist ties shaped his character quite significantly...More
Oh In-chun has been quite prolific in the latest years, having released 3 films since the end of 2017. Evidently, his efforts seem to have paid off, since "The DMZ" seems to be his best film as of yet...More
The second collaboration between Lee Chang-dong as a scriptwriter and Park Kwang-soo as director was a very political film, which focused on Jeon Tae-il, a worker and workers' rights activist who committed suicide by burning himself to death at the age of 22, in protest of the poor working conditions in South Korean factories...More
The film that introduced Lee Chang-dong to the world of filmmaking has an interesting story behind this collaboration. Park Kwang-soo, the director, whom Lee met through the writer Choe In-seok, was eager to be introduced to Lim Chul-woo, who wrote what would become the source novel of "To the Starry Island". Park first called upon Lee to make the connection and then, after Im wrote a preliminary adaptation, asked Lee not only to revise it but also, eventually, to serve as the assistant director. (Source: Senses of Cinema)...More
Drama and, quite frequently, melodrama seems to be the genre Koreans love the most. Lee Chang-dong has proven himself, repeatedly, to be the contemporary master of the genre through his deep explorations of human soul and "Secret Sunshine" is another testament to the fact. The film won the award for Best Film at the Asian Film Awards and at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and sold 1,710,364 tickets nationwide in South Korea alone...More
Body swap comedies have been one of the most familiar themes in international cinema. Kim Heyong-hyeop makes his own effort in the subcategory, and manages to distinguish his work due to a number of elements, and particularly by presenting it as a tribute to father-daughter relationships. Let us take things from the beginning though...More
In one of his most acclaimed movies (it took the 2002 Venice Festival by storm winning 4 awards there, among a plethora of local and international ones), "Oasis" sheds a rather realistic light in the lives of disabled people, through an extreme romance...More
The genre of thriller has taken a number of "faces" in the abundance of films in the category; the one presented in Kim Tae-yong-I 's film though, is quite unique, as the element is just the cherry in a pie consisting of (school) drama, romance, and a love (?) triangle that dominates the movie...More
Hong Sang-soo's second feature enjoyed as much success as the rest of his filmography in the festival circuit, despite the fact that the director had not yet gained the complete mastery of the medium he has currently, although his progress from his first film "The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well" is quite obvious...More
Probably one of the greatest accomplishments of contemporary Korean cinema, "Save the Green Planet" is a great movie that manages to combine slapstick comedy with science fiction, film noir, thriller, and horror, with exploitation elements in the most impressive way...More
The first feature film of a novelist and high school teacher who turned out to be one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers of the country is a testament to his immense talent and a truly great debut...More
My opinion on the latest Korean indie films is that they share many similarities with Hong Sang-soo movies, with some of them even being rip-offs and others simply using elements of his style. "A Tiger in Winter" seems to fall under the second category (Lee Kwang-kuk has worked as assistant to Hong Sang-soo), implementing some of the elements appearing in his movies (A man broken and drunk, events that stretch reality to the point of surrealism and some unexpected but quite intelligent humor here and there). However, Lee transcends Hong's style through his own, unique visage, presenting in the process, something quite different...More
As I have mentioned many times before, crime thrillers is one of the top categories with the most entries in the Korean cinema. "RV: Resurrected Victims" however, manages to stand out by using the supernatural in the mix, and particularly by presenting it as something completely logical...More
Contemporary S. Korean art house cinema has been largely shaped by Hong Sang-soo, with others ripping off his work and other adopting some of his assets in their own films. Jeong Ka-young belongs in the second category, as she uses the long (and occasionally drunken) dialogues between a man and a woman, and the lengthy one-shots, that frequently appear on HHS films, as a base for "Hit the Night", where she is also the protagonist, a tactic she also implemented in her first film, "Bitch On the Beach"...More
One of the most important South Korean filmmakers, Lee Chang-dong, directs and pens another masterpiece, this time using a real-life case where a small town schoolgirl was raped by a gang of teenage boys, as a base, to focus, instead, on the character of one of the boy's grandmother. For the part, he chose, and actually wrote the lead part for Yoon Jung-hee, a star of the 60s and the 70s who had retired in 1994. The result is truly magnificent...More
I have to admit that romantic comedies is one of the categories I rarely enjoy, as they are, for the most part, addressed to the female audience. "Hellcats" however, managed to get under my skin, as I found myself smiling repeatedly during the movie, particularly due to Kim Min-hee's performance, in one of her first, truly competent performances...More
One could easily say that "Moby Dick" is another entry in the crime thriller genre that, in Hollywood style, uses the connection of the authorities with the capital to introduce a case of conspiracy that reaches the higher echelons of S. Korea, and he would not be very far from the truth. However, a few elements in the film make it stand out from the majority of similar productions...More
Based on Miyuke Miyabe's novel "All She Was Worth", "Helpless" is a wonderful thriller/drama that seems to have captured the essence of the novel quite nicely, despite the fact that only the main story-line and theme remains...More
Thanks to you, our HanCinema readers, we have had a successful HanCinema Awards. Today we begin to reveal your winners, starting with "Best Film of 2017...More
The leading men have been strong in 2017. Globetrotters and national favorites, this year has seen a variety of talent capable of helming films for years to come. Vote for your favorite leading man from December 23 to January 6. Results for all categories will release beginning December 30...More
Competition in 2017 between the talented leading ladies in film was fierce. From action to romance to thrillers, Korean actresses pulled out all the stops, delivering excellent performances and winning accolades domestically and abroad. You can vote from December 23 to January 6 on the nominees for Best Actress. Results for all categories will begin to release on December 30...More
Based on the Japanese novel "Journey Under the Midnight Sun" by Keigo Higashino and featuring Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" as its main theme, "White Night" seemed as a more than impressionable production, among the abundance of crime thrillers coming from S. Korea. Let us see if the impression matched the substance though...More
By the end of the year there is such a colorful array of films to choose from and this year, the HanCinema staff has tackled much of what has hit the silver screen. We've chosen our favorites of the year and want to hear what yours are as well...More
Having watched all three of Hong Sang-soo's 2017 films (the present one, "Claire's Camera", "The Day After - 2017") and most of his earlier works, I have to admit that, although I still enjoy them, the repetition of theme and style is getting somewhat annoying. The addition of Kim Min-hee in his latest works has definitely helped (with this movie actually drawing much from his real-life relationship with her) as did the change of scenery to Europe, with Hamburg as this one's base, but with three films in one year, even these aspects do not seem enough...More
Cinema in South Korea is busier than ever, with faces new and old and quite a few globetrotters that made notable appearances on the international scene in 2017. From December 15 to December 29 you can vote for your favorite film of 2017. Results for all categories will be revealed beginning December 30...More
In 1998, Lee Geun-hyuk left the city, along with his wife and infant daughter, for Korea's South Chungcheong Province to begin a new life in farming. Lee harbored no romantic illusions about becoming a farmer, since he had been born and raised in a farming family, but he believed strongly in the importance of traditional agriculture and in the urgent need to organize a farmers' movement to protest new government policies...More
There remains a strong social taboo against single parenthood in South Korea, where single mothers are still referred to as "unwed". "Bittersweet Joke" is the first Korean film in which single mothers appear with their faces unobscured, and speak frankly about problems they face in a society that treats them as a problem...More
South Korea's contender for the 89th foreign-language Academy Award, and the first Korean-language production for Warner Bros is a blockbuster in every sense...More
Combining two of the most popular (globally and of all time) genres, the ghost story and the melodrama, seems like a great idea that can definitely help the commercial aspect of a film. Let us see if the combination was as successful in practice as it seemed in theory...More
One fact about Hong Sang-soo's filmography is that he seems to shoot the same movie again and again with very few changes in all of the aspects that comprise his films. Another fact is that he does it so well, and that his virtues (mainly the composition and the ironic humor) are so evident, to the point that one finds himself wishing to see them all. This time, he made a few changes, as he decided to shoot in Cannes, include Isabelle Huppert in the cast, and have his actors speak English as much as Korean...More
During the 21st century, Lee Joon-ik has emerged as one of the top Korean filmmakers, with films like "The King and the Clown", "The Throne" and "DongJu, The Portrait of A Poet" combining depth and substance with commercial success. This time, he deals with the true story of Korean anarchist and independence activist, Park Yeol, in a style which seems peculiar for the theme, but works quite well...More
Lee Dong-eun's debut was developed and produced in the Myung Films Lab, an industry initiative to support new directors. Lee (an economics major) wrote it as a graphic novel before turning it into a film...More
Hong Sang-soo has been, for quite a while now, a favorite of the festival circuit, particularly the ones in Europe, with his art-house aesthetics, his intelligent and occasionally ironic humor, and the drinking that seems to be everywhere in his films, finding much sympathy among film buffs. "The Day After - 2017" continues in this path, for the most part...More
In the abundance of historical dramas (Joseon or period dramas) coming out of South korea, occasionally some films manage to stand out, with "Masquerade", "The Throne" and "The Admiral: Roaring Currents" being the first that come to mind. "Warriors of the Dawn" is one of those films, as is manages to stand out by implementing a relatively minimalistic approach, with less of court politics and the impression created by the impressive costumes that seem to dominate similar productions...More
Kind of a Korean version of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's masterpiece, "Tokyo Sonata", Sin Dong-il's "Come, Together", offers a realistic view on the concept of family in the contemporary, extremely capitalistic and antagonizing world of the urban centers of the country...More
One of the biggest pleasures of watching and reviewing films is coming across hidden gems, surprisingly good movies that had no prior testament to their prowess. Lim Dae-hyeong's debut definitely falls under this category...More
Kang Yoon-Sung has been in show business since the start of the previous decade, having acted in "Please Teach Me English" in 2003. "The Outlaws" (aka "Crime City") is his first full feature film as a director.
On the occasion of the screening of "The Outlaws" (Festival entry as "Crime City") at London Korean Film Festival, we speak with him about his film, his collaboration with Ma Dong-seok, Korean movie industry, and many other topics...More
HONG Ji-you and Kim Il-rhan's "2 Doors" dealt with the events that took place during the 2009 Yongsan tragedy, and in the process, made a clear accusation towards the then Lee Myung-bak administration, as the highlighted the corruption resulting from the connection of politics, the press, the police, and the judiciary. Despite their extremely thorough research, the directing duo was not satisfied with just that, and actually tracked the five demonstrators who were imprisoned as perpetrators for the deaths in the incident, during the next seven years, and present, through them, the aftermath of the events and the trial...More
For decades. the struggle of union workers against large corporations has been a frequent theme for documentarians all over the world. HAN Young-hee, however, presents a different take on the subject as she focuses on the impact of this struggle to the families of the workers, and particularly their children. The result is truly dramatic...More
Art house films have been a relatively newly acquired taste for me, which has begun during the last seven or eight years. As I found my way in the Korean art house film genre, I stumbled upon some greats ("The Liar" and "Communication and Lies" come to mind), and some utterly uninteresting ones. Then there is "Jamsil", which does not fit in either of these categories. The only definite thing I could say about it is what came to mind as I was watching it: "Too art-house"...More
Ma Dong-seok (aka Don Lee) has been moving up in the Korean cinema world for quite some time, with his role in "Train to Busan" actually shooting his career into stardom. Kang Yoon-Sung capitalizes on his fame and by presenting a number of favorite elements among the crime movies aficionados, ends up with a very entertaining film...More
The connection between politicians, the judiciary, the press, the police and the Capital (construction companies dealing with the redevelopment of various neighborhoods in this case), has been a major theme in Korean cinema the latest years, ranging from film likes "Whistle Blower" and "Haemoo" to "Asura: The City of Madness". "2 Doors" shows the reality of this concept in a thorough investigation of the 2009 Yongsan Tragedy...More
One quite undisputed fact of the East Asian movie industry is that J-horror is long since dead. Koreans (and others), however, occasionally try their luck in the genre, and very rarely, a film like "The Wailing" emerges, although there, horror is just an excuse for a plethora of different of elements. Huh Jung, probably instigated by Na Hong-jin's film (as many more in the future will be) presents his own take on the Korean edition of J-horror...More
As I have mentioned many times before, the number of crime thrillers Korea is producing per year is really overwhelming. In an effort to stand out from the plethora of productions of the category, filmmakers strive to present something different, particularly regarding the narrative. Lee Kyoung-mi succeeded impressively in her effort at "The Truth Beneath", so let us see how Byun Sung-Hyun fared...More
It is always reinvigorating when a movie reminds me that, apart from the crime/action thrillers and the melodramas, South Korea also has a presence in indie, art-house cinema, occasionally producing great films of the genre. "The First Lap" is a distinct sample of the fact in a production that netted Kim Dae-hwan the Best Emerging Director award from Locarno...More
If one thing could be said for "Master", it is that it is timely. Dealing with the concept of pyramid frauds, the corruption of the multinational companies, and their ties to politicians in a time when Korea is facing a scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye was a definite recipe for success. Furthermore, the presence of Lee Byung-hun, Gang Dong-won and Kim Woo-bin at the helm insured the film's financial success even more, with "Master" taking the 32nd place on the list of highest-grossing films in South Korea of all time, as of February...More
Although a bit early to speak about a tendency, it seems that Park Chan-wook once again sent waves through the Korean movie industry with "The Handmaiden" behind which Jeong Sik's "The Tooth and the Nail" follows, both visually and in that they're both based on a western novel (the homonymous, by Bill S. Ballinger)...More
With an impressive supporting cast headed by Sol Kyung-gu and Kang Hye-jung, a very popular protagonist in the face of Go Soo, and a more than interesting script based on the concept of the lucid dream, the film ticked all the prerequisites of being a masterpiece...More
Lee Byung-hun's evolution as an actor has been tremendous through the years, and this low-key, kind-of-indie drama proves this fact to the point that Warner Bros decided to co-produce and distribute it...More
Financial fraud taking place in the past decade have been a recurring theme for international cinema, particularly after the global financial crisis that still torments a number of countries. "One Line" presents the same subject in a rather entertaining fashion, focusing on the characters rather than the financial aspect...More
Korean mainstream cinema has been moving towards Hollywood aesthetics and themes for some time now, and the particular one, which seems to draw much from Scorcese's "Goodfellas" and "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a distinct sample of the tendency. When the result is so entertaining as in this case, though, nothing else matters...More
I have to admit, romantic comedy are among my least favorite genres, in a category that is chiefly addressed to women. "Because I Love You" however, proved quite entertaining in its presentation of the various aspects of love in the Korean society, through a characteristically light tone...More
The found-footage subgenre has been at large since "The Blair Witch Project" in 1999, although its actual roots are traced to the beginning of the 80's. Although J-horror has adopted the category for some years now, Korean cinema did not seem to prefer dealing with the category, with the only film coming to mind being "The Haunted house Project" from 2010. Oh In-chun dares it, however, by presenting an extremely low-budget production, shot entirely on iPhone6, based on the actual case of taxidriver-serial killer in south Korea, and with him functioning as writer, cinematographer, executive producer, director and actor...More
The Gwangju Uprising has been a recurring theme in S. Korean cinema, with "A Petal", "National Security", and "May 18" being among the most renowned samples. Jang Hoon, who gave us the masterful "Rough Cut" in 2008, takes a shot at the theme, through a script based on the true story of a taxi driver and his passenger, a German reporter...More
In my recent "walk" through Korean animation, I stumbled upon Hong Deok-pyo, whose "The Senior Class" presented a very interesting social commentary dealing with art, the school environment and sex. After that, I decided to look a bit more into the director's filmography, and I stumbled upon "Master and Man", his previous work, an adult animated drama of 11 episodes, that shares many merits with the aforementioned title...More
Animator Park Hye-mi did quite an impression in 2015, with her debut feature "The Crimson Whale" about an orphaned girl trying to make a living in a dystopic setting. "Scarecrow Island" is her second work, a short this time, which moves along similar lines...More
What I like the most about Korean animation, especially regarding the comparison with Japanese anime, is that the films are addressed to adults, for their most part, and not to children or teenagers, as is the case with the majority of anime. In that fashion, "Seoul Station", "King of Pigs", "The Fake" and this particular one (all of which have the same script writer, Yeon Sang-ho, who also directed "Train to Busan") include some deep and harsh social comments, sex and adult themes in general, and a realism that is rarely seen in their Japanese counterparts...More
Sci Fi is probably the genre least visited in Korean cinema. Eom Tae-hwa, however, decided to tackle the category, and by using a rather unique perspective, manages to transcend its borders and present a great film...More
I have to admit, sometimes I forget the appeal a good mainstream movie can have and the entertainment it can offer. "Split" does exactly that, through a Korean version of "Rain Man".
Cheol-jong used to be the best professional bowler in the country, but a tragic car accident destroyed his leg, his career, and even his family. Now, he plays in underground bowling matches that are organized by Hee-jin, an owner of a bowling alley who is in deep debt...More
Seon-hwa is a quirky and slightly nerdy girl, part of an equally quirky family, who attends an all-girl high school. One day, as she is helping her best friend prepare for an audition of "Romeo and Juliet", she is spotted by the director, Soo-yeon, and ends up with the part of Juliet. Soon after that, she meets Ha-nam, a senior student who plays Romeo and has already won awards for her theatrical performances and is currently the object of yearning for almost every girl in the school. Soon, Seon-hwa finds herself attracted to the older girl and the feelings seem to be mutual. This however, causes a number of unexpected events, particularly through Soo-yeon's jealousy...More
The film follows an unnamed young girl who arrives in Europe to search for her boyfriend, for an, initially, unknown reason. Starting from Venice, however, he seems to have left the place she arrives each time, just a bit before she gets there...More
Kim Ki-duk's fourteenth film screened in festivals all over the world, found distribution in a number of countries and was nominated for the Palme d'Or.
Joo-yeon is an unhappily married sculptor and mother, who finds out that her husband has an affair...More
Kim Ki-duk's second film takes place in France where he studied and worked as a street painter. The story revolves around three Koreans. Hong-san is a former soldier of the North Korean army who dreams of going to Paris and signing up in the foreign legion. On the train to Paris, he meets Laura, a Korean whose boyfriend has her working at a club at the red light district in Paris. When the French police arrive at their compartment, Laura helps him and he, eventually, falls in love with her...More
Based on the 2001 Japanese television drama "Pure Soul", John H. Lee's second feature film was his first in the Korean language, and a huge success, becoming the highest grossing domestic film in the romance genre in the history of Korean cinema. Furthermore, upon its release in Japan in 2005, became the most successful Korean film ever in the country...More
John H. Lee, whose blockbuster filmmaker status was established in 2004, with "A Moment to Remember" and found its apogee last year, with "Operation Chromite" presents another movie that aims at commercial success and achieves it on every aspect...More
Hong Sang-soo distinct and quite repetitive style found its apogee in this film, although this time, he implemented a lighter tone, that was probably the main reason it received the Prix Un Certain Regard at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, a huge accomplishment considering the status of the director up to that point...More
Winner of the Best Film of the Documentary Competition in Moscow and Best International Documentary Film in Zurich Film, "Mrs B" is a very impressive documentary, shot in true guerilla style...More
Bae Yong-kyun, a professor at Dogguk University spent ten years as screenwriter, director, cinematographer, and editor of this film, with only the music composed by someone else: Chin Kyn-yong. The result is a unique film for the Korean industry, which was part of the Official Selection of "Un Certain Regard" at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and winner of the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival at the same year. Thus, it marked the first director's award in the history of Korean cinema...More
Hong Sang-soo's third feature film, whose title is a reference to Marcel Duchamp's artwork "The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even", was his most accessible one, up to that point (2000)...More
"Bamseom Pirates" is a band consisting of bassist Jang Sung-geon (aged 29) and drummer Kwon Yong-man (aged 31). Their music is an extreme mixture of grindcore and punk, not to mention they frequently combine their music with the breaking of things. However, what set them apart and eventually garnered great attention towards the duo is their song titles and lyrics, with "All hail to Kim Jong-il" and "I like the commie" being distinct samples...More
Thirty year-old Yoon-joo is a brilliant student of fine arts, who is currently working on a peculiar sculpture, made out of scrap metal. Her personal life is at a standstill, since she does not show any will to date someone, and can't explain why even to herself. The answer emerges one day, when she is searching for parts in a junkyard and runs into Ji-soo...More
Despite its mediocre accomplishments in S. Korean box office, "Take Care of My Cat" received great reviews and went on screening in a number of festivals around the world, winning a plethora of awards...More
The film is based on the homonymous Japanese novel and had already been adapted into a Japanese movie in 1999. However, the film was not as successful as the producers expected, and this led to this particular edition, a Japanese-Korean co-production...More
Kim Hee-soo, a single, jobless woman in her thirties sets out to find her ex-boyfriend, Jo Byeong-woon, who owes her $3,500. However, it turns out that he is also broke at the moment, although he assures her that he can get the money by the end of the day. Not sure about his honesty, since he has been owing her the money for more than a year, she decides to follow him in his quest to find it from a series of friends and acquaintances, most of which turn out to be women. As the story becomes a road trip through Seoul's streets and neighborhoods, the duo's past and present is revealed...More
Despite being a 2009 film based on the concept of the mobile phone, when smart phones were not the rule yet, "Hand Phone" seems to be even timelier today, since people seem more attached than ever to their phones...More
A co-production between South Korea, Hong Kong, China and the United States, it is the fourth remake of the now-lost 1966 Lee Man-hee-I homonymous melodrama classic.
Anna Chen is imprisoned in Washington after man-slaughtering her husband, 7 years ago...More
Son Tae-gyum was born in 1986 in South Korea and graduated from the Department of Cinema Studies at Chung-Ang University. With "Fly By Night" (2011), he won the Cinéfondation third prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. In 2012, he joins Korean Academy of Film and directs "Bicycle Thief". In 2013, his "In the Summer" wins Busan Film Festival's Sonje Award. "Baby Beside Me" is his debut feature...More
Do-il has just been discharged from the army and returns to his mother's house, where Sun-yeong, his bride to be, and their newborn baby is waiting for him. Despite the fact that he has trouble finding a job and his mother's almost constant nagging, Do-il seems to be happy...More
Winner of Best New Director and Best New Actor Awards in both the Grand Bell and the Blue Dragon awards, "Bleak Night" is a truly special coming-of-age film.
The story moves in two axes, one occurring after Ki-tae's death, with his estranged father searching for the reasons for his son's death, and one before, which explains the events that led to the incident...More
Zhang Lu, born in China, shot this tragicomedy in Susaek, a deprived, messy neighborhood of Seoul, giving the protagonist roles to three fellow filmmakers.
Ye-ri runs a rundown bar in an equally rundown neighborhood in Seoul, while she also takes care of her handicapped father. Three men, who are all in love with her and seem to antagonize for her love, are her main customers...More
Based on Jiro Asada's novel "Love Letter", "Failan" unfolds in two axes.
Kang-jae is a pathetic individual, a low-grade criminal of a minor organization, who has seen his childhood friend, Kyeong-soo becoming the leader of the gang, while he was merely endowed with a small video shop for his contributions to organized crime. The new members of the syndicate do not respect him, and his shop barely makes enough for him to live. If that was not enough, when his boss kills a member of another gang in a fit of rage, he suggests that Kang-jae takes the blame, which will leave him for about ten years in prison. Kang-jae reluctantly agrees...More
Jang Hoon, who started his career as an assistant to Kim Ki-duk, has only directed three feature films: "Rough Cut" in 2008, "Secret Reunion" in 2010, and "The Front Line", in 2011. However, all of them are considered masterpieces, with Hoon managing to combine commercial success with acclaimed reviews. This particular one holds the 47th place in the List of highest-grossing films in South Korea, while it also netted the Best Film Award from the Blue Dragon...More
Kim Jee-woon's debut did not have much to do with his later films, apart from the cast that includes Choi Min-sik and Song Kang-ho, as it is a very strange film, which could only be described as a slapstick black comedy...More
Following an incident in "Dream", where the lead protagonist, Lee Na-young almost died during a hanging scene, and after his long-time assistant, Jang Hoon and the producer of the film "Poongsan" abandoned him during the film's shootings the same year (2011), Kim Ki-duk retreated to a secluded mountain house. Eventually he decided to shoot a documentary of shorts while there, entirely by himself, that came to be "ARIRANG - Movie". It premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and won the top award for best film...More
Kim Ki-duk's debut was a definite forerunner of what was about to follow, as the enfant terrible of S. Korean cinema did not hold any punches in the depiction of his extreme themes.
Crocodile is the nickname of a very violent and ill-tempered homeless man, who lives under a bridge of Han River...More
The year of 2016 brought the world some brilliant Korean cinema that was daring, inspiring, and bold. Not only did film make a splash in Korean, but it traversed across oceans to reach welcoming audiences. From December 16 to December 23 you can vote for your favorite film of the year. Results will be revealed during the last week of 2016!...More
The women in film have had a phenomenal year, representing South Korean cinema in festivals all over the world. From December 10 to December 17 you can vote for your favorite actresses. Results will be announced the last week of 2016...More
The first vote of the HanCinema Awards is here: Best Actor in a Film! Voting will be open from December 10 to December 17 and results will be out the last week of 2016!...More
Although the samples are too few to be called a tendency ("Hansel and Gretel" and "Red Shoes" come to mind), South Koreans seem to have found a new source of material for their films, this time from classical European fairy tales. In this case, the source material is "The Piper from Hamelin", a medieval story popularized by the Brothers Grimm...More
Probably one the best films for someone to initiate his relationship with Hong Sang-soo's filmography (this is his 18th film) and definitely one of his funniest, "Yourself and Yours" presents a realistic visage into drunkenness, through a slightly surrealistic concept...More
Mi-heun is a devoted homemaker and mother of an eight-year-old daughter, happily married to Hyo-gyeong. However, her whole world shutters when her husband's mistress attacks her in her home, during Christmas. More than physically, this event hurts her psychologically...More
Despite being relatively unknown, "My Dear Desperado" was a very successful film, and had a large impact on India, where two remakes were shot, one in Hindi and one in Tamil.
Se-jin is a country girl who leaves her small hometown to come to Seoul. Initially, everything seems to be going well for her, as she lands an IT job and finds a boyfriend, who works as a programmer. Her days of joy, though, do not last for long, and eventually, her company goes bankrupt and her boyfriend finds a new job and leaves her...More
The film is based on actual events, and tells the story of 32-year-old, divorced Kim Moon-hee and 19-years-old Hyeon. The two of them embark on a relationship; however, according to S. Korean Law, youths are forbidden to have sex until the age of 20. Therefore, Kim ends up in prison for seducing a minor and she is also forced to do some hours of social work. When she is released, apart from a large crowd of journalists waiting to get a comment from her, Hyeon is also there...More
The film is based on the actual life of Korean Kyokushin Karate founder Choi Bae-dal, who immigrated to Japan after World War II to become a pilot. Instead, he ended up changing his name to Masutatsu Oyama, and became an unbeatable fighter.
The script tracks his first steps in Japan, where he ends up in a military training camp, along with Choon-bae, a friend who initially tried to con him. While there, they are treated harshly by the Japanese commander Kato, in a series of events that end up with Bae-dal fighting him one on one...More
"Derailed" was a big surprise for me, since I have read that every investor the director pitched it to, turned down the script, and that probably the sole reason it was eventually made was due to the participation of SHINee member Minho and Ma Dong-seok, who agreed to star. In that fashion, I was expecting a naive movie that would exemplify the former looks, simply aiming at increasing his popularity, with Ma Dong-seok providing the actual acting. The fact that former model, Kim Jae-young would also star, strengthened my expectations. "Derailed" though, was anything but...More
Yoon So-eun is a student at Seoul university and is in love with a co-student, Dong-hee. In her efforts to approach him, she shows a fake interest to attend a lesson regarding wireless radios, ending with her, actually owning one. A few days later, she listens to someone trying to communicate and she decides to answer. On the other line of the wireless is another student of the same university, Ji In. The two of them start talking on a regular basis and they end up becoming friends. She talks to him about her love for Dong-hee and Kim Min-joo, her best friend, and he for a girl who does not leave him alone, Hyeon-ji...More
The 00's decade signaled a trend where romantic films were injected with supernatural and/or mystery elements, in order to stand out from the plethora of entries in the category. "Ditto" and "Il Mare" are two distinct samples, as is the case with "Addicted".
Two brothers, race-driver Dae-jin and carpenter Ho-jin live happily in the same house along with the wife of the latter, Eun-soo. One day, both siblings get into traffic accidents at the same time, although in different incidents...More
Tae-sik was a true delinquent during his high school years, having drooped out of school and constantly fighting, along with his two lackeys, Yang-gi and Chang-moo. Choi Do-pil was the leader of the local mob during that period, and was desperately trying to persuade Tae-sik to join their ranks. During his last effort, he attacked Tae-sik, along with his henchmen, wishing to kill him. However, they failed miserably as he injured one of them named Byeong-jin and killed another. The result was that Tae-sik was sent to prison and Choi Do-pil's gang was dismantled...More
The film is based on the true story of a 70-year-old angler, who killed four women between August and September 2007, in Bosung.
Hyeon-ah is a young actress who travels to the countryside with a director who has promised her a role in his next film. Eventually, they stop in a village to eat. Unfortunately, the seemingly peaceful and polite owner, Pan-gon is paranoid murderer who, almost immediately, kills the director and chains the girl in a cage in his basement. Her sister, Hyeon-jeong, who is worried when she does not communicate with her for days, goes to the village and starts searching for her. The local police officers show no will to help her. She, however, starts suspecting Pan-gon after a while...More
Winner of the 1995 Grand Bell Awards for Best Film, S. Korea's official selection for the Academy Awards for Foreign Film, screenings at Sundance and Berlin are only some of the indications of the importance of "301, 302", one of the films that paved the way for the international acknowledgement of the country's cinema...More
The title refers to a rather sad aspect of S. Korean society, the "Bacchus Ladies", elderly Korean prostitutes who solicit in parks and plazas in Seoul for sex in nearby motels. Their name derives from the popular Bacchus energy drink that they are selling in parks where elderly men gather. The women are in their 50s, 60, even their 80s.The price of selling sex is about 20,000 to 30,000 won ($18-26) or even less if the man is a regular client. In a testimony, about 400 women work in Jongmyo Park in Seoul. The younger men in their 20s to 40s are also becoming their clients...More
In my opinion, cinema owes to do much more than just stimulate the senses (in the case of art-house films) and/or entertain (in the case of mainstream films). I think that it should also deal realistically with subjects such as politics, history, corruption, and other issues that hold the public interest, outside of art. The fact is that the medium, usually reaches its apogee when technical prowess is combined with important, actual stories. In that aspect, the recent turn of S. Korean cinema towards similar subjects ("Inside Men", "Haemoo", "National Security" are just a few of the examples) is, definitely, a turn of the better. Furthermore, the public seems to respond, since most of these productions become commercial hits. "Whistle Blower" belongs to this tendency and is one of the finest samples...More
"Musa" is one of the most expensive productions in the history of Korean cinema (it was the most expensive when it first screened, in 2001) and one of those films that turned the global audience towards the country. Based on historical facts, with an attention to detail that even resulted in each protagonist using his tribe's language, and featuring a great cast of Korean actors plus Zhang Ziyi, "Musa" is a truly impressive film...More
Another entry in the vast category of romantic films, "An Affair" stands on a level above the majority of contemporary ones, despite the fact that it was screened in 1998.
Seo-hyeon is an ordinary, big bourgeoisie housewife, almost 40 years old, wife to a very successful architect, Joon-il, and mother of a10-year-old boy...More
Jeong Tae-soo returns to his hometown to attend Wang-jae's funeral, an old friend of his. While there, he meets his old friends, Seok-hwan, who is still a very strong fighter and Jang Pil-ho, who used to be the weakest member of the gang, but has now become a high-ranking officer of the local mob. Tae-su and Seok-hwan decide to investigate the murder of the old friend, in an enquiry that soon brings them against the whole town, among rumors that Pil-ho had something to do with it...More
Violent thrillers featuring gangsters have been S. Korean cinema's most successful export genre for many years, with quite a large number of films of the genre still being shot in the country. "A Bittersweet Life" is another entry in the category, which, despite not reaching the standards of the masterpieces of the genre (The Chaser, I Saw the Devil) is still, quite entertaining...More
Moo-hyeok is going through a divorce with his pregnant wife, who works in a gallery. Furthermore, he is about to lose his job because he investigated the corruption of an individual, whose company happens to be a big sponsor of the news channel he is working for. When he receives a call from a woman who claims to know something about the serial killings recently occurring, he thinks he found a scoop. As he comes across the truth, though, he feels like he has no other choice but to fabricate facts to create news. This act results in a chain reaction, which, on the one hand reinstates him with a promotion and a large raise, but also has terrible repercussions. The involvement of a police detective makes his position even worse...More
Kim Hyeong-jun in his debut did what everyone was doing in S. Korea back in 2010. He shot a crime thriller with aesthetics similar to Hollywood, except the grotesque depiction of violence, which is a genuine trait of S. Korean cinema.
When the police discover a dismembered body near a river, they ask from coroner Kang, one of the leaders in the field to assist them in ascertaining the cause of death...More
If you are a fan of zombie films (I am btw), you are constantly in search for something in the category that has never been done before. Well, a S. Korean animation with zombies has never been shot before, so here we are.
The story revolves around a zombie break-out that starts among the homeless living in Seoul station. The outbreak soon engulfs the whole city and the government declares a lockout of the whole area. In this chaos, Hae-sun, an ex-prostitute who has just broken up with her boyfriend named Ki-woong, tries to save herself with the help from some homeless, while her boyfriend is searching for her along with her father, Suk-gyu...More
One of the films that established the progress of the contemporary S. Korean cinema, "Peppermint Candy" was one of the most commercially successful films of 2000, and screened in many festivals around the world, winning a plethora of awards both locally and internationally.
The story actually starts with Yong-ho's suicide, and then moves, in segments, backwards in time, in order to present the reasons that led him to this extreme act...More
One day in S. Korea, a filmmaker was wondering how he could shoot a blockbuster. Firstly, he considered which genres are the most popular and he came up with melodrama, action, and romance. Then he considered what elements usually draw crowds in a movie and he came up with well-built male protagonist, cute female one, and dogs. After all this thought he concluded: I will direct a film that will entail all of the above and I will break the box office. Although this story is fictional, it could well have been the way Song Il-gon decided to shoot this film. However, "Always" ended up being a flick rather than a commercial success, despite the fact that during the 2011 Busan International Film Festival, the 2000 online tickets for its premier were sold out in a record seven seconds...More
There three elements that drew my attention in this particular title.
1. The social comment regarding the S.Korean educational system during the 70's, with the obligatory, Japanese-type uniforms for the students, and the military-like discipline.
2. The allegory for the political situation in the country, since in 1978, when the story begins, the election was rigged in favor of General Park, who was murdered the next year, when the film's story ends.
3. The awful reviews it received internationally, which resulted in many countries forbidding its screening, although the fact did not bother Koreans from watching it, since it cut more than 3 million tickets in the country...More
Melodrama has always been one of the most popular genres in S. Korea, although, in the last decades, due to the ascent of crime thriller, joseon, romance, and other genres, the category is considered somewhat preterit. "A Family" manages to cover this gap in quality by modernizing the genre and by adding elements of other genres...More
"Breathless" was one of the biggest international successes of 2008, winning awards from a plethora of festivals all over the world and having a vast impact in Japan, where most competitions hailed it as the best foreign film of the year...More
The fourth-in-a-row blockbuster regarding the relations between North and South Korea (after "Shiri", "JSA - Joint Security Area" and "Silmido"), broke the records of both budget, with $12,8 millions, and admissions, with 11.74 million spectators in the country's cinemas, while its earnings bordered on $70 million. Furthermore, it was a success in Japan earning $9,7 million, and it was also released in the United Stated, earning $1,1 million. Testament to the scale of the production are the years of research spent to ensure historic validity, the huge sets, and the number of supernumeraries used, who exceeded 25,000, in order to achieve absolute realism in the war scenes...More
"A Petal" is a landmark film for Korean cinema, since it was the first that depicted the Gwanju Massacre realistically, signaling in that fashion, the change that was sweeping the country, after years of dictatorship...More
This film proved that Kim Ki-duk's presence in a movie is a pledge of success by its own self. This time, the Korean auteur penned the script, with Jang Hoon, the director, being one of the many assistants Kim had in his films, learning "the art" in "The Bow". The combination proved very successful, with "Rough Cut" recording more admissions than all of the previous Kim's films combined...More
The film is based on an actual unsolved case that shocked the nation for over a decade, and regarded the disappearance of five kids, from 9 to 13 years old, in the Daegu Mountains in 1991.
The children (U Cheol-won, Jo Ho-yeon, Kim Yeong-gyu, Park Chan-in and Kim Jong-sik) were living in a village near Mt. Waryong and on the 26th of that year decided to head to the mountain to search for salamander eggs, following a path that begun in the back of their school. After failing to return for several hours, their worried parents called the police. The authorities though, were certain that it was a usual case of children getting away for a few days and then returning, and they did not proceed to a formal investigation, despite the parents' pleas...More
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