By Kim Tae-jong
If you take a look at the posters of upcoming movies, you may be struck by the similarities. If you read their plot summaries, you may even get the impression that you have read the same outline twice.
It's true that movies in the same genre share many similarities, but it does not mean that they should be indistinguishable, even at a glance.
Such similarities have caused worries that the local movies lack the originality and creativity.
"This year, especially, it's true that there have not many films with creative stories", said Huh Moon-young, a film critic and programmer of the Korean Panorama section at the Pusan International Film Festival.
"It may be inevitable that there are some similarities in movies, as commercial movies tend to mix limited elements that can appeal to the audience, but it's disappointing and a matter of concern".
Here are brief introductions to six movies and comparisons of them in pairs to help you tell one from another.
"Cruel Winter Blues
" and "Sunflower"
At first glance, these two movies have many striking similarities. They revolve around criminal gangsters who for the first time experience a mother's love from a middle-aged woman that they don't know. These women also happen to run restaurants.
In "Cruel Winter Blues
", Jae-mun (played by eSol Kyeong-gu) decides to kill a man, Dae-sik, to avenge his Dead Friend
But when he goes to Dae-sik's hometown, he happens to meet Dae-sik's mother (by Na Moon-hee
). She treats him like his son, and Jae-mun becomes perplexed.
, Tae-sik (Kim Rae-won
) becomes a new man after being released from a prison. He tries hard to keep three promises to himself _ never drink, never fight and never cry.
He meets Duk-ja (Kim Hae-sook
), who takes care of him as if he were her son. But he finds it hard to keep his promise.
It seems that the two films' directors wanted to combat the stereotypes and typical formulas of gangster movies, using the theme of motherly love.
They cast two veteran actresses _ Nah and Kim Hae-sook
_ who are often described as having typical Korean mothers' characteristics.
"How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men
" and "Who Slept With Her?" ("Sexy Teacher
These two films are adult comedies. Movies in this genre tend to have simple plotlines that are boldly developed, focusing on fragmented episodes revolving around wackos, perverts and a sexy woman.
These two films follow the formula. The films revolve around men with unfulfilled sexual desires, and the characters try hard to get to the heart _ and body _ of a sexy woman. In the development of the story, the directors added jokes and toilet humor.
The differences between the two films are only in who fights for the woman and how they fight.
In "How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men
", a father and his son fight over a woman who moves into a downstairs room in their house, and the two men compete for her.
"Who Slept With Her?" takes place in a boys high school, where a bunch of male students and teachers are fascinated by a new student teacher at the school. As is expected, they all fight to get her. But when a rumor spreads that she slept with one of the men from the school, a group tries to find out his identity.
"Once in a Summer
" and "Solace
Melodramas are probably one of the most formulaic genres _ a man and woman meet, they are usually played by a beautiful actress and a handsome actor and they surmount problems. The film ends either with a happily-ever-after ending or with a sad yet touching conclusion.
With these limitations, these two new melodramas try to escape the formulas and show something new and different.
Starring Lee Byung-hun
and Soo Ae
, "Once in a Summer
" takes the audience back to the late 1960s to depict a pure and innocent love.
Professor Yoon Suk-young (Lee) recalls his first and unforgettable love Suh Jung-in (Soo Ae
) whom he met when he was a college student.
", however, uses more realistic settings and doesn't beautify love or romance. It stars Han Suk-kyu
and Kim Ji-soo
In-gu (Han) lives with his mother and a mentally challenged brother. To take care of his brother, In-gu is forced to give up a marriage. Hye-ran (Kim) is some 500 million won in debt. She inherited the debt from her father, and she believes she doesn't have time for romance.
The two regard their families as a burden but come to see them in a new light as the relationship develops.