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Panos Kotzathanasis's Articles, Reviews

[Hancinema Film Review] "Scattered Night"

2019/11/15 | Permalink

Films about the consequences divorces have on children can be found aplenty in world cinema, mostly focusing, however, on the parents and through them, to the kids. Lee Jihyoung and Kim Sol however, shoot a family drama that presents the succession of events after the divorce through the eyes of the children, and particularly of little Soo-min, thus managing to stand apart from the plethora of similar productions. Their efforts were rewarded with the Korean Competition Grand Prize and the Best Acting Award in Jeonju...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "A Bedsore"

2019/11/10 | Permalink

Films that deal with the lives of the elderly have been increasing in number during the latest years, since their issues (mostly their caretaking) seem to become more intense as their numbers are also increasing in comparison to the new generations, particularly in the "first world" countries. Usually, these films tend to be slow and quite dramatic, but Shim HyeJung has picked another kind of approach, in her first feature effort...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Young-ju"

2019/11/03 | Permalink

Extreme melodrama, which occasionally cared very little for realism, has been one of the favorite genres of Korean cinema traditionally, although during the past decades, it has been pushed to the background, mostly presented here in there in mainstream productions, in order to draw even bigger crowds ("Train to Busan" is a distinct sample). Chang Sung-duk, however, decided to direct a genuine melodrama in her first feature effort, in old-fashion style...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Don't Go Too Far"

2019/10/26 | Permalink

Films that unfold like stage plays is one of my favorite categories, although I can understand why many consider them non-cinematic. Park Hyun-yong directs a film in that fashion, but through a number of added elements, most of which are "courtesy" of genre cinema, manages to exceed these limitations...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "School Excursion" + Full Movie

2019/10/19 | Permalink

Not as political heavy as his masterpiece, "Aimless Bullet" since the censorship laws in 1969 had become much stricter, "School Excursion" deals with is subject it much "tamer" fashion, but Yu Hyun-mok still managed to include some segments of criticism, although in very subtle fashion...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Gingko Bed" + Full Movie

2019/10/12 | Permalink

Considered one of the first Korean films to implement special effects in a way that added to its value, "The Gingko Bed" is also story of eternal love that suffers, however, from a rather faulty narrative...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "DMZ: Reload"

2019/10/05 | Permalink

Oh In-chun seems to experience an utterly creative phase during the latest years, since he turns up movies every few months. "The DMZ" despite its no-budget nature was one of the best, and now Oh returns with a kind of a sequel, in the same style but also quite different, both regarding the story and the narrative approach, which is more intricate...More

[Interview] Seo Won-tae-I

2019/09/30 | Permalink

Seo Won-tae-I is a filmmaker and visual artist.  His first feature film, "Synching Blue" (2007) was introduced in Vancouver IFF and Jeonju IFF, while a number of his films have screened at del Plata IFF, Busan IFF and more. Currently, he is also a professor of VIS at Kongju National University...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Fearless and Vulnerable"

2019/09/28 | Permalink

It is always a bit strange to watch a film after you have met the director, and this is what happened to me in the case of Jeon Sungyeon and "The Fearless and Vulnerable". Fortunately, the documentary is quite interesting and so I did not have to slam a person I ended up liking. Let us see what the film is about though...More

[Interview] Kim Mooyoung

2019/09/28 | Permalink

Apart from making movies, Kim Mooyoung has also engaged in exhibiting research-based media art, which is being introduced to several countries. His first film, "Concrete" revovled around an undocumenteed Korean in Los Angeles...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Wall"

2019/09/21 | Permalink

This film was a strange watch for me, since a few days before I had watched "Alpinist: Confession of a Cameraman", Lim Il-jin's last film, that recorded, among others, the expedition that ended with the death of the director in 2018. Thus, watching a man I knew was dead, recording the climbing of the rugged Canadian bigwall, 'Bugaboo', became part of the review, making me feel a ritualistic sentiment, as I was writing this text. Let us see what "The Wall" is about, though...More

[Interview] Chung Sum and Lee Doh

2019/09/21 | Permalink

Born in Damyang in 1965, Chung is working on his new project, "Cinema Odyssey". Born in Busan in 1972. Lee's documentary,  "She Loves to Massage Feet" (2003), was invited to the 5th Seoul Woman Film Festival and received the Excellence Award for Best Picture...More

[Interview] Joo Young

2019/09/14 | Permalink

Based in Incheon city, Joo Young has worked for the Incheon Women's Film Festival for a long time as a general manager and programmer. From 2011 to 2016, she was a festival director for the IWFF. She finished the filmmaking course at the Hankyoreh Education center in 2017. She directed her first short film "Late Afternoon" and "Uncomfortable" is her second film...More

[Interview] Lee Ga-kyung

2019/09/12 | Permalink

Lee Ga-kyung was born in Jeonju City, Korea. She is working as an actress and a film director both. She has acted in the films: "The King", "Illang : The Wolf Brigade", "The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale", and directed the short film "Escape - Short".

On the occasion of her short film "The House of Rising Sun" (festival entry) screening at Ulju Mountain Film Festival, we talk with her about being both director and actor, the song that gave its title to the movie, her family and the inspiration for the film and many other topics...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Alpinist: Confession of a Cameraman"

2019/09/07 | Permalink

The value of the documentary as a medium of recording lives and events, and subsequently, as a tool whose purpose is not to let people forget, finds one of its apogees in this particular documentary. "Alpinist: Confession of a Cameraman" is a true requiem for a number of Korean alpinists who lost their lives in the mountains, but most of all, a tribute to the late mountain film director Lim Il-jin, who died along  the entire expedition to Mt. Gurja, in 2018...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Goodbye My Girlhood"

2019/09/07 | Permalink

First part of the KBS 4-episode documentary titled "Journey on Foot", Kim Han-seok's (who also organized the project plan) "Goodbye My Girlhood" focuses on Wang-mo, a girl in Ladakh, India and her Pad Yatra, a harsh pilgrimage trip a number of people take walking 200 km in 17 days, in extremely harsh conditions at an altitude of 5,200m. The series won the 2018 Korean Broadcasting Awards for Best Television Documentary...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Abyss: The Girl's Eyes"

2019/08/31 | Permalink

Using the supernatural to make social comments (through metaphor or not) is a tactic that has been used many times in world cinema, with films like "Get Out", "American Psycho" or even "The People Under the Stairs" implementing this approach in the most brilliant fashion. "Abyss: The Girl's Eyes" is Jang Hyeon-sang's effort in the category, with him, however, not managing to stay away from some local trends, like the crime thriller element and the concept of the "exorcism". On the other hand, his approach is unique, so no harm done, at least in that aspect...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Height of the Wave"

2019/08/24 | Permalink

Winner of the Special Jury Prize in Locarno, "Height of the Wave" is another impressive indie from Korea, in an industry that seems to experience one of its greatest seasons in years. Furthermore, Park Jung-bum establishes his position as one of the most important new Korean directors, as he continues in the footsteps of "The Journals of Musan". The film is actually a theatrical version of the 1-episode "Drama Stage - Waves of Change", which was released in the beginning of the year...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Welcome to the Guesthouse"

2019/08/24 | Permalink

Trying to speak about serious topics through comedy is a great way to communicate your messages through cinema, and that is exactly what Shim Yohan is trying to do in "Welcome to the Guesthouse", also adding to the entertainment the film offers by making surfing the base of the narrative. Let us see if he succeeded...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Uncle"

2019/08/17 | Permalink

In a time when Kim Ki-duk seems to be moving towards a direction that has made him a "persona non grata" in the movie world, it is always good to find directors that have been influenced by him and actually carry his artistic legacy. However, in this case, in a more contemporary/not so decadent fashion, and with a humor that seems to draw much from Park Chan-wook, while one could also find some elements of Takashi Miike's style, from "Visitor Q". What is even more impressive is that "The Uncle" is actually a debut...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Film Adventure"

2019/08/17 | Permalink

Since Korean indie cinema seems to struggle to get away from the "rules" set by Hong Sang-soo, it is always reinvigorating to discover productions that take an effort to distance themselves from the particular style. Lee Sang-deok's "Film Adventure" is one of those efforts, which actually succeeds, at least to a point, in a film that won Best Korean Fantastic Film and Fantastic Best Actor at BIFAN...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Fanfare"

2019/08/10 | Permalink

Among the overwhelming plethora of crime films coming from S. Korea, it is always a pleasure to find works that manage to present the themes of the category in a different fashion. Lee Don-ku does exactly that and with style, by shooting a Tarantinoesque movie set as a stage play, that also features a female character, who, for once, is not a cliché. Let us take things from the beginning though...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The 12th Suspect"

2019/08/03 | Permalink

I have to admit I have a soft spot for films that unfold as stage plays, and this particular one, whose synopsis portrayed it as an Agatha Christie-style story, made me really eager to watch it. At half point, though, the narrative changed completely and the movie became something very different. Let us see if this change actually benefitted it...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Divine Fury" Screening at Fantasia 2019

2019/08/02 | Permalink

The relentless, but also somewhat hopeless effort of Korean genre films to create new stories that incorporate, though, the elements that have brought the country's cinema to the top of the continent (commercially and internationally at least), has resulted in a plethora of big-budget, commercially successful movies on the one hand, of dubious quality and rather repetitive on the other. "The Divine Fury" takes this concept a step even further, since it seems to incorporate all these elements into one, visually impressive package, of... well you are going to have to read ahead to get to the quality part...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Moon in the Hidden Woods" Screening at Fantasia 2019

2019/07/29 | Permalink

Having a Japanese director helm a Korean animation sounds a bit unusual, but considering Takahiro Umehara's CV, which includes animation for titles like "Dragonball Z", "Claymore" and "Iron Man", it sounded like a really good idea. The result is a film that looks much like a Japanese anime but still includes a distinct Korean flavor. Let us see what it is about...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Wrath" Screening in Fantasia 2019

2019/07/27 | Permalink

Remake of the 1986 horror film "Cry of a Woman", "The Wrath" places its story in the newly found favorite setting of Korean horror, the Joseon era, and attempts to include as many themes of the genre possible. Let us see how it fares...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Dogs in the House"

2019/07/27 | Permalink

Watching a film that combines thriller, crime, drama, comedy, violence, home-invasion and a stage-play basis is always a pleasure, particularly since Shin Hae-gang has managed to mold the aforementioned elements into something compact, headed by a great performance by Kim Young-ho, which netted him the Best Actor Award in BIFAN...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Dude in Me" Screening at Fantasia 2019

2019/07/22 | Permalink

The body swap theme has been done a number of times in world cinema, with "Daddy You, Daughter Me" presenting Korea's latest (probably) take on the subject, two years ago. And while "the bullied who becomes the hero" concept is here once more, Kang-hyo-jin has managed to shoot a film that stands out, particularly because he included elements of a crime movie and a series of impressive action scenes...More

[Interview] Yi Okseop and Koo Kyo-hwan

2019/07/20 | Permalink

Yi Okseop graduated from Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA). She debuted in 2010, her many short movies include "RAZ on Air" (2012), "A Dangerous Woman" (2014), "Girls on Top" (2017). Her first feature, "Maggie", is the 14th film project officially supported by the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea, as it touches upon several social issues, like spy-cam porn, unemployment, real estate and city redevelopment, that often make the headlines in South Korea. Featuring renowned actress Moon So-ri, the film won the Citizen Critics' Award at the Busan International Film Festival and the Grand Prix at the Osaka Asian Film Festival...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Idol" Screening at Fantasia 2019

2019/07/17 | Permalink

Five years after the great "Han Gong-ju", Lee Su-jin returns with his second feature film, an intense crime thriller of 144 minutes. Let us see how he fared...More

[Interview] Kim Yun-seok

2019/07/14 | Permalink

Kim Yun-seok had a successful career as a stage actor long before he started to appear in films and television. His big screen breakthrough was "Tazza: The High Rollers, with his acclaimed supporting performance as a ruthless gambler. This was followed by his leading role in Na Hong-jin's "The Chaser" (2008) as the morally ambiguous ex-cop-turned-pimp after a serial killer for which he won several awards...More

[Q&A] Park Noo-ri

2019/07/13 | Permalink

Photo by Brent N. Clarke

Park Noo-ri was an assistant director on Ryoo Seung-wan's "The Berlin File" (NYAFF 2013) and "The Unjust" (NYAFF 2013). "Money", her directorial debut (and screenplay) is a crime drama based on dangerous stock market scams, portraying a person's transformation via finance...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "My Dear Keum-hong" + Full Movie

2019/07/06 | Permalink

People say that opposites attract and the phrase could not be mirrored more eloquently than in the relationship between the Fauvist painter Bon-woong and Lee  Sang, a poet and writer, which occurred during the period of Japanese Imperialism in Korea. "My Dear Keum-hong" is the story of this friendship that eventually became an unfulfilled love triangle...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Move the Grave"

2019/06/29 | Permalink

In a cinema such as the Korean, where the masters (Park Chan-wook, Lee Chang-dong, Bong Joon-ho) and the crime thrillers dominate the narrative, it is always a pleasure to discover films such as "Move the Grave", who justify the title "hidden gem" entirely. Let us see what this is about though...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Confession of an Actress" + Full Movie

2019/06/22 | Permalink

Kim Soo-yong was one of the most prolific directors of the 60's, in an era when film production was rather fast and films were being released constantly, without much regard for quality, in an effort to meet the quota for the import of foreign films, which at the time was 3 (local productions) to 1 (foreign production). A number of directors managed to shoot 6-8 films per year, but Kim Soo-yong went a step further, by shooting 10 in 1967. "Confession of an Actress", which is based on a novel by Yoon Seok-joo, is one of them...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Ticket" + Full Movie

2019/06/15 | Permalink

Stories about prostitutes have been the trademark of Kim Ki-duk but Korean cinema has been dealing with the concept of Tabang (coffee houses in Korea and many offer outcall services in which the girls deliver coffee to customers, and sometimes extra sexual services for a price termed a "Ticket") decades before the Korean auteur started his career. "Ticket" is one of the best samples...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Road"

2019/06/08 | Permalink

Bae Chang-ho's penultimate film to date was one that he actually wanted to do, after a somewhat failed effort to return to mainstream cinema with "The Last Witness". With him in the protagonist role, and also as a writer-director, Bae Chang-ho had complete artistic command of the production, which ended up being a story that he wanted to tell, in the way he wanted to tell it, and in the distinct style of his second phase of filmmaking, which focused more on realism, through a genuine dramatic approach...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Chihwaseon"

2019/06/01 | Permalink

Considered Im Kwon-taek's greatest work (at least outside of Korea), "Chihwaseon" is also a landmark for Korean cinema, since it signaled the first time a local director won the Best Director Award at Cannes.

The biopic presents the life of Jang Seung-up, one of the most significant painters in the history of the country, who is considered to have changed the direction of Korean art...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Surrogate Woman" + Full Movie

2019/05/25 | Permalink

Winner of Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress at the 1987 Asia-Pacific Film Festival and for Best Actress (Kang Soo-yeon) at Venice, "The Surrogate Woman" is one of the most internationally acclaimed films of Im Kwon-taek and, in essence, one of his best...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Jagko" + Full Movie

2019/05/18 | Permalink

With a career spanning over 50 years in a country that censorship rules changed repeatedly but remained quite strict for decades, one can only marvel at Im Kwon-taek's abilities to adapt. After the very strict censorship of the 70's under President Park Chung-hee's authoritarian "Yusin System", the 80's brought a "lenience" in the censorship that allowed filmmakers to deal with the social issues of the then Korean society, with the consequences of the dichotomy and the civil war becoming dominant themes. Im Kwon-taek was one of the first to take advantage of the new rules, with "Jagko"...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Jo Pil-ho: The Dawning Rage"

2019/05/11 | Permalink

The previous decade (and a bit more actually) was the golden era of crime thrillers for Korean cinema, a genre that actually headed the triumphant march to the top of Asian cinema for the country. Lee Jeong-beom was one of the contributors to this achievement, with "Cruel Winter Blues", "The Man From Nowhere" and on a secondary level, "No Tears for the Dead". Thus, the interest for his first film after 5 years was quite high, particularly since the genre was once again, the crime thriller. Let us see if the "hype" was well worth it...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Oldest Son" + Full Movie

2019/05/04 | Permalink

Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" is one of the most influential films of all time, and its impact could not be avoided in Korean cinema, with Lee Doo-yong using it as a basis for "The Oldest Son". However, Lee strayed far away from the classic, eventually creating a movie that is distinctively Korean...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Road to Sampo" + Full Movie

2019/04/27 | Permalink

"The Road to Sampo" is the final film of Lee Man-hee-I, who collapsed during the editing process and died soon after, with the film releasing in cinemas posthumously...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "A Fine, Windy Day"

2019/04/20 | Permalink

The film marked Lee Chang-ho's return from a ban he had "acquired" from making films between 1976 and 1979. His success had not wavered though, and "A Fine, Windy Day" ranked third in the films released in 1980, while it also won a number of local awards, particularly for the direction (Bae Chang-ho was assistant in this film btw) and Ahn Sung-ki, who did his first steps as an adolescent actor in this movie...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Gilsotteum" + Full Movie

2019/04/13 | Permalink

The film is inspired by the KBS show in 1983 which aimed to reunite families separated during the Korean War. The early episodes of the show generated huge amounts of interest among the general public (88% of the population watched the early episodes), and the square in front of KBS was thronged with people advertising and looking for lost family members...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Red Carpet"

2019/04/06 | Permalink

Romantic comedies are not my favorite genre, to say the least. Occasionally, however, I do find films I enjoy, with "What A Man Wants' being the most recent sample. Furthermore, the concept of the romance between a director of adult films and a former child actress seemed rather interesting, with the fact that the script is based on the director's personal experiences adding even more to the whole idea. Let us see how the film fared though...More

[Interview] Kim Bo-ra-I

2019/04/06 | Permalink

Kim Bo-ra-I studied directing at Columbia University in New York. Her short film "The Recorder Exam" won numerous prizes including a Student Film Award from the Directors Guild of America. Her debut feature film, Beol-sae (House of Hummingbird), received production support from the Korean Film Council, the Seoul Film Commission and the Busan International Film Festival's Asian Cinema Fund, as well as post-production support from the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Program. It premiered at Busan where it won the NETPAC Award and the KNN Audience Award...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Journals of Musan"

2019/03/30 | Permalink

For his feature debut, Lee Chang-dong's assistant Park Jung-bum decided to direct, write and star in a film that was inspired Jeon Seung-cheol, a North Korean refugee he met while attending Yonsei University; Jeon was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died in 2008, less than 6 years after he defected to South Korea. His effort paid off with "The Journals of Musan" netting 17 awards from major film festivals around the world...More

[Interview] Jero Yun

2019/03/30 | Permalink

After "Mrs. B. A North Korean Woman" Jero Yun decided to make an effort for a feature film, with "Beautiful Days - 2017" opening last year's Busan International Film Festival. On the occasion of the film screening at Cine Aasia, we speak with him in detail about the movie...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Beautiful Days - 2017"

2019/03/23 | Permalink

After a number of documentaries dealing with North Korean defectors, with "Mrs. B. A North Korean Woman" being the most successful, Jero Yun decided to make his theme into a feature film, in the movie that opened last year's Busan Festival. Let us see how he fared...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "House of Hummingbird"

2019/03/23 | Permalink

Winner of the Grand Prix of the Generation 14plus International Jury and of the KNN and NETPAC award at Busan, Kim Bo-ra-I's feature debut is an excellent indie film, and an indication of the nominal path Korean (melo)dramas should follow...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Clean Up"

2019/03/16 | Permalink

Maybe it is a bit too early to say this, but "Clean Up" seems to be among the best independent Korean films of the year, and one of the most interesting movies that have been released from the country during the latest years...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Scarlet Innocence"

2019/03/16 | Permalink

After adapting the traditional tale of Hansel and Gretel in a modern, Korean setting, Yim Pil-sung decided to do the same with the classic Korean folktale Simcheongga, by creating an atmospheric, erotic thriller. Let us see how he fared...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Gagman" + Full Movie

2019/03/09 | Permalink

Lee Myung-se started his career under Bae Chang-ho, for the films "Hwang Jin-ie" ",Our Joyful Young Days" and "Dream - 1990". Thus, and having repeatedly cooperated with him and his "permanent" protagonist, Ahn Sung-ki, it was almost inevitable that he would cast them both for his directorial debut, a rather unusual comedy titled "Gagman"...More

[Interview] Han Ji-min Asked Herself Who "Miss Baek" Was as a Person

2019/03/09 | Permalink

After minor roles in "All In" (2003), "Dae Jang Geum" (2003), Han had her breakout role in the revenge series Revenge in 2005. This was followed by her other memorable roles in period dramas "Capital Scandal" (2007) and "Yi San" (2007), contemporary dramas "Cain and Abel" (2009) and "Padam Padam... The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats" (2011), and romantic comedies "The Rooftop Prince" (2012) and "Familiar Wife" (2018), as well as drama film "Miss Baek" (2018)...More

[Interview] Kim Yu-ri, Kwon Han-sol, and Ok Soo-boon on Korean Teenagers' Difficulty With Independence

2019/03/06 | Permalink

Kim Yu-ri graduated with a degree in Film Making from Kyungsung University in Busan. After graduation, she began working on commercial and independent features and has been making several short films including How Long Has That Door Been Open? which received the Grand Prize in the Korean Shorts competition at the 2014 Jeonju International Film Festival. "Sub-zero Wind" is her first feature film...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "My Heart"

2019/03/02 | Permalink

One of the most visually stunning films in Bae Chang-ho's filmography, "My Heart" was the product of his and his wife's (Kim Yu-mi, who is also the protagonist) combined writing effort, which resulted in a great story about the life of a woman from the 1920s until the 1960s...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Sub-zero Wind"

2019/02/23 | Permalink

For her debut, Kim Yu-ri put a lot on herself, by shooting a film that deals with a plethora of subjects, including Christianity, growing up, broken families and obsession, and unfolds in three different time axes. Let us see how she fared though...More

[Interview] Bae Chang-ho

2019/02/23 | Permalink

Bae Chang-ho was the most commercially successful director of the 1980s, who made a number of chic melodramas about the new sensibility of the young generation. His debut film, "People in the Slum" (1982), and following films, "Whale Hunting" (1984), "Deep Blue Night" (1985), and "Our Joyful Young Days" (1987) all generated enthused reactions from not only ordinary moviegoers but also hardcore film maniacs. "Deep Blue Night" was shot mostly on location in the US at a time overseas shooting of even a few scenes was not an easy task. Despite these successes, Bae refused to dwell in one place. Since the 1980s, he pushed on in his artistic explorations, even enduring box office failures. The hit maker of the 1980s transformed himself into a maker of low budget, independent films such as "My Heart" (1999) and "Road" (2004). His early works showed elaborate filmmaking techniques that were second to none among his contemporaries, but his later works are more characterized by simple and down-to-earth approach to story telling and image capturing. He once taught in college, but left his teaching position, frustrated by artistic stagnation...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Hello God" + Full Movie

2019/02/16 | Permalink

After a Joseon film ("Hwang Jin-ie") and a romantic comedy ("Our Joyful Young Days"), it was time for Bae Chang-ho to return to the theme that resulted in his biggest commercial successes, the road movie, with "Hello God" sharing many similarities with "Whale Hunting"...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Our Joyful Young Days" + Full Movie

2019/02/09 | Permalink

Continuing in his box office success of the 80's, Bae Chang-ho presented another commercially appealing film in 1987, with "Our Joyful Young Days" entailing all the elements the Korean audience cherished at the time (and still does, to a point)...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Maggie"

2019/02/02 | Permalink

Having a newcomer director and a newcomer protagonist in a movie is already a hard task, and Yi Okseop even took it a step further by implementing an episodic narrative that looks more like a collage of ideas than a compact movie. The result, however, is interesting...More

[Interview] Yi Seung-jun: I wonder why this world cannot be bright all the time

2019/02/02 | Permalink

Yi Seung-Jun is a documentary director, who has been shooting docs since 2014. In 2017, the Olympic Committee chose him to shoot the official documentary for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, "Crossing Beyond"...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Winter's Night"

2019/02/02 | Permalink

As I have stated many times before, Hong Sang-soo's influence in the indie, art-house production of Korea is visible on all levels, and "Winter's Night" is not exactly an exception. A number of unique elements, here and there in the narrative, though, allow the film to be a work on itself, and a rather entertaining experience, at least for the art-house audience...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Whale Hunting" + Full Movie

2019/01/26 | Permalink

Based once more on a story by Choe In-ho, Bae Chang-ho's "Whale Hunting" cemented his position as one of the most commercially successful Korean directors of the 80's, topping the box office in 1984. The titular phrase, during the years of dictatorship, meant yearning for something more than the financial progress that was the government's main goal, and in essence represented dissatisfaction with the then (everyday) life...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Revenger"

2019/01/19 | Permalink

Korean martial arts films are not exactly a common tendency for the country's cinema. But when one someone deals with the genre, as Lee Seung-won-III does here in his debut, well, the result is extremely generic, to say the least. Let us take things from the beginning, though...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Deep Blue Night"

2019/01/19 | Permalink

Based on the homonymous novel by Choi In-ho, and shot in Lon Angeles, "Deep Blue Sea" was one of the first local movies to portray the eagerness of Koreans to immigrate to the US, which was considered the "Absolute" country to live in. Despite the radically different setting than his previous films, "Deep Blue Sea" was another huge commercial success, attracting more than 600,000 viewers, breaking box office records, and receiving many awards on both domestic and international stages, including the Grand Bell Film Award, the Paeksang Arts Award and an Asia Pacific Screen Award...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Hwang Jin-ie" + Full Movie

2019/01/12 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema Film Review] "Running Wild"

2019/01/05 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Film Review] "The Flower at the Equator" + Full Movie

2018/12/29 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "People in the Slum" + Full Movie

2018/12/22 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema Film Review] "Crossing Beyond"

2018/12/22 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "The General's Mustache" + Full Movie

2018/12/15 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "The Last Witness"

2018/12/08 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "A Tale of Legendary Libido"

2018/12/01 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema Film Review] "Village of Haze" + Full Movie

2018/11/24 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Possible Faces"

2018/11/17 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema Film Review] "Hotel by the River"

2018/11/17 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Waikiki Brothers"

2018/11/17 | Permalink

Yim Soon-rye's "Little Forest" may be one of the (festival) hits of the season, but the director has a quite a filmic past, with "Waikiki Brothers" being one of the most interesting samples...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Grain in Ear"

2018/11/10 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "This Charming Girl"

2018/11/10 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Jealousy Is My Middle Name"

2018/11/10 | Permalink

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

[Hancinema's Film Review] "The Land of Seonghye"

2018/11/03 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema's Film Review] "M"

2018/10/27 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Nowhere to Hide"

2018/10/20 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Water Mill" + Full Movie

2018/10/13 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Early Rain" + Full Movie

2018/10/06 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Seashore Village"

2018/09/29 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Flame in the Valley" + Full Movie

2018/09/22 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Our Body"

2018/09/15 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Hand of Destiny" + Full Movie

2018/09/08 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Woman After a Killer Butterfly" + Full Movie

2018/09/01 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Human, Space, Time and Human"

2018/09/01 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Flower in Hell" + Full Movie

2018/08/25 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Break up the Chain" with Full Movie

2018/08/18 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Woman of Fire" with Full Movie

2018/08/11 | Permalink

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

[Guest Short Film Review] "Polaroid - Short"

2018/08/11 | Permalink

The quite prolific Oh In-chun continues to explore the boundaries of the minimalist horror film by shooting a 4-minute short that has the instant camera as its base, with an iPhone 7...More

[Guest Film Review] "Ieodo"

2018/08/04 | Permalink

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

[Guest Post] Artists' Choice: Director Jero Yun Lists His 10 Favorite Korean Movies

2018/08/04 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Devil! Take The Train To Hell" with Video

2018/07/28 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Last Child" Screening at Fantasia Film Festival

2018/07/21 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Tale of Cinema"

2018/07/21 | Permalink

Hong Sang-soo's sixth film is one of his most enjoyable, while the style that would make him an international festival sensation later on, is almost complete in here...More

[Guest Film Review] "Woman is the Future of Man"

2018/07/14 | Permalink

Probably one of Hong Sang-soo's most accessible films, "Woman is the Future of Man" entails most of the elements that have made the director an international sensation...More

[Interview] Lee Il-ha Hopes His Work Influences Young Japanese

2018/07/14 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Counters"

2018/07/07 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "What A Man Wants"

2018/06/30 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Age of Blood"

2018/06/30 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "After My Death"

2018/06/30 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women" with Full Movie

2018/06/23 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Declaration of Fools" with Full Movie

2018/06/16 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Mulberry" + Full Movie

2018/06/09 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Aimless Bullet" with Full Movie

2018/06/02 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The March of Fools" with Full Movie

2018/05/26 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Black Republic" with Full Movie

2018/05/19 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Champion"

2018/05/12 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Chilsu and Mansu" with Full Movie

2018/05/12 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Her Family Has No Problem"

2018/05/05 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Heart Blackened"

2018/05/05 | Permalink

A remake of the 2013 Chinese film "Silent Witness", "Heart Blackened" combines the trial drama with the crime film, in a story full of plot twists...More

[Guest Film Review] "White Badge"

2018/04/28 | Permalink

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

Lee Chang-dong Retrospective: The realistically melodramatic cinema of the "marginalized" - Part 2

2018/04/21 | Permalink

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

Lee Chang-dong Retrospective: The Realistically Melodramatic Cinema of the "Marginalized" - Part 1

2018/04/21 | Permalink

I make films for the kind of people that are characters in "Oasis" or "Poetry".

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

[Guest Film Review] "The DMZ"

2018/04/14 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Single Spark"

2018/04/07 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "To the Starry Island"

2018/03/31 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Secret Sunshine"

2018/03/24 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Daddy You, Daughter Me"

2018/03/17 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Oasis"

2018/03/10 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Misbehavior"

2018/03/03 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Power of Kangwon Province"

2018/02/24 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Save the Green Planet"

2018/02/17 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Green Fish"

2018/02/10 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Tiger in Winter"

2018/02/03 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Mothers" by Lee Dong-eun

2018/02/03 | Permalink

Lee Dong-eun continues his travels in the depths of the meaning of family, after "In Between Seasons", this time analyzing the concept of motherhood in its various forms...More

[Guest Film Review] "RV: Resurrected Victims"

2018/01/27 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Hit The Night"

2018/01/27 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Poetry"

2018/01/20 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Hellcats"

2018/01/13 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Moby Dick"

2018/01/06 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Helpless" + Video

2017/12/30 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Awards] Best Film of 2017 - And the Winner Is...

2017/12/30 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Awards] Best Actor in a Film for 2017 - Cast Your Vote! + Movie Giveaway

2017/12/23 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Awards] Best Actress in a Film for 2017 - Cast Your Vote! + Movie Giveaway

2017/12/23 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "White Night"

2017/12/23 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Awards] HanCinema's Top Film Picks - Cast Your Vote! and Movie Giveaway

2017/12/19 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "On the Beach at Night Alone"

2017/12/16 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Awards] Best Film of 2017 - Cast Your Vote!

2017/12/15 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Back to the Soil"

2017/12/09 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Bittersweet Joke"

2017/12/02 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Age of Shadows"

2017/11/25 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "One Day"

2017/11/18 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Claire's Camera"

2017/11/11 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Anarchist from Colony"

2017/11/04 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "In Between Seasons"

2017/10/28 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Day After - 2017"

2017/10/28 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Warriors of the Dawn"

2017/10/28 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Come, Together"

2017/10/21 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Merry Christmas Mr. Mo"

2017/10/21 | Permalink

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

[Interview] Kang Yoon-sung: I think it is important to move the audience in genre movies

2017/10/14 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Remnants"

2017/10/14 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Good Bye My Hero"

2017/10/14 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Jamsil"

2017/10/14 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Outlaws"

2017/10/07 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "2 Doors"

2017/10/07 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Mimic"

2017/09/30 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Merciless"

2017/09/30 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The First Lap"

2017/09/30 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Master"

2017/09/23 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Tooth and The Nail"

2017/09/23 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Lucid Dream"

2017/09/16 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Single Rider"

Source | 2017/09/09 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "One Line"

2017/09/02 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The King"

2017/08/26 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Because I Love You"

2017/08/19 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Nightscape"

2017/08/12 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Taxi Driver" screening at Fantasia International Film Festival

2017/08/05 | Permalink

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

[Guest Drama Review] "Master and Man"

2017/08/05 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Scarecrow Island" screening at Fantasia International Film Festival

2017/07/29 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Crimson Whale"

2017/07/29 | Permalink

"The Crimson Whale" is a product of the Korean Academy of Film Arts' Advanced Program. The prestigious school sees the worth in encouraging South Korea's potential-packed animation industry...More

[Guest Film Review] "The Senior Class" screening at Fantasia International Film Festival

2017/07/22 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned" - New York Asian Film Festival

2017/07/15 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Split" - New York Asian Film Festival

2017/07/08 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Fantasy of the Girls" - New York Asian Film Festival

2017/07/01 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Amen"

2017/06/24 | Permalink

Kim Ki-duk's experimental endeavors brought him back in Europe, 14 years after "Wild Animals".

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

[Guest Film Review] "Breath"

2017/06/17 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Wild Animals"

2017/06/10 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Faceless Beauty"

2017/06/03 | Permalink

Kim In-sik's second and last film takes a rather strange approach to the concept of hypnosis and psychiatry in general, through an even stranger narrative...More

[Guest Film Review] "A Moment to Remember"

2017/05/27 | Permalink


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

[Guest Film Review] "71-Into the Fire"

2017/05/20 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Ha Ha Ha"

2017/05/13 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Mrs. B. A North Korean Woman"

2017/05/06 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left For The East?"

2017/04/29 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors"

2017/04/22 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Hyeon's Quartet"

2017/04/15 | Permalink

Winner of the Vision Director's award in Busan, Ahn Sun-kyoung's "Hyeon's Quartet" is an almost experimental combination of docudrama and indie film, dealing with the concept of acting...More

[Guest Film Review] "Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno"

2017/04/08 | Permalink

"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

[Guest Film Review] "Jane"

2017/04/01 | Permalink

"Jane" is a rather ambitious debut for Cho Hyun-hoon, who uses a complex style of surreal narrative to present a melodrama with social extensions...More

[Guest Film Review] "Our Love Story"

2017/03/25 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Take Care of My Cat"

2017/03/18 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Black House"

2017/03/11 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "My Dear Enemy"

2017/03/04 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Hand Phone"

2017/02/25 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Late Autumn - 2010"

2017/02/18 | Permalink

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

[Interview] Son Tae-gyum: My ultimate goal is to live as a film director until death.

2017/02/17 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Baby Beside Me"

2017/02/11 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Bleak Night"

2017/02/04 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Quiet Dream"

2017/01/28 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Good Lawyer's Wife"

2017/01/21 | Permalink

Featuring a great performance by Moon So-ri, "A Good Lawyers Wife" is a bit disconnected, but definitely worth watching for a number of reasons...More

[Guest Film Review] "Failan"

2017/01/14 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Secret Reunion"

2017/01/07 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Quiet Family"

2016/12/31 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "ARIRANG - Movie"

2016/12/24 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Crocodile"

2016/12/17 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Awards] Best Film

2016/12/16 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Awards] Best Actress in a Film - Cast Your Vote!

2016/12/10 | Permalink

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

[HanCinema Awards] Best Actor in a Film - Cast Your Vote!

2016/12/10 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Piper"

2016/12/10 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Yourself and Yours"

2016/12/03 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Ardor"

2016/11/26 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "My Dear Desperado"

2016/11/19 | Permalink


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

[Guest Film Review] "Green Chair"

2016/11/12 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Fighter in the Wind"

2016/11/05 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Derailed"

2016/10/29 | Permalink

"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 Choi 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

[Guest Film Review] "Ditto"

2016/10/23 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Addicted"

2016/10/15 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Sunflower"

2016/10/08 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Missing"

2016/10/01 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "301, 302"

2016/09/24 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Bacchus Lady"

2016/09/17 | Permalink

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

[Guest Review] "Whistle Blower"

2016/09/10 | Permalink

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

[Guest Review] "Musa"

2016/09/03 | Permalink

"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

[Guest Film Review] "An Affair"

2016/08/27 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The City of Violence"

2016/08/20 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Bittersweet Life"

2016/08/13 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "The Exclusive: Beat the Devil's Tattoo"

2016/08/06 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "No Mercy" + DVD Giveaway

2016/07/30 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] Yeong Sang-ho's "Seoul Station" screening on Fantasia International Film Festival

2016/07/23 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Peppermint Candy"

2016/07/23 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Always" + Video

2016/07/16 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Once Upon A Time in Highschool" + Video

2016/07/09 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Family"

2016/07/02 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Cruel Winter Blues"

2016/06/25 | Permalink

"Cruel Winter Blues" starts as another crime film revolving around revenge, but as the story progresses, it becomes something very different...More

[Guest Film Review] "Breathless"

2016/06/18 | Permalink

"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

[Guest Film Review] "Silmido"

2016/06/11 | Permalink

Silmido was the first Korean film to attract more than 10 million viewers in the country's cinemas. What is more impressive, though, is that it's amazing story is actually based on true events...More

[Guest Film Review] "Taegukgi"

2016/06/04 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "A Petal" and Full Movie

2016/05/28 | Permalink

"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

[Guest Film Review] "Rough Cut"

2016/05/21 | Permalink

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

[Guest Film Review] "Children..."

2016/05/14 | Permalink

The Actual Case

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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