Posts Tagged ‘k-drama’



KOREA 2010  Directed by: Kim Sang-Man Written by: Kim Sang-Man, Kim Hwi Produced by: Je Jeong-Hun, Kim Hong-Baek  Cinematography by: Kim Tae-Gyeong  Editing by: Sin Min-Gyeong  Music by: Kim Jun-Seong  Cast: Park Soo-Ae, Yoo Ji-Tae, Ma Dong-Seok, Choi Song-Hyeon, Shin Da-Eun, Jeong Man-Sik, Kim Min-Kyu, Jo Seok-Hyeon, Nam Ji-Hyun, Kwak Byung-Kyu

There are basically two kinds of thrillers: the type that gradually reveals the (secret) connection between the victim and the killer, including a climatic surprise ending, and the type that solely concentrates on a cat-and-mouse game with as many twists and turns as possible, trying to outsmart the audience with genuine ideas lending weight to its dramatization of terror. Either way, both concepts can be highly intriguing and artistic if everything comes together perfectly.

MIDNIGHT FM falls into the second category: the story about a popular TV anchorwoman and late night radio show host who is stalked by a madman starts conventional and sticks to its formulaic routine of attack and counter-attack until the end, interspersed by occasional guessing games and gimmicks, but otherwise predictable moves. Hostages, children, a suspicious fan, police investigations, time pressure and some incidences prior to the actual events are supposed to add extra thrills, but are all pretty much common elements of any genre film today. Meaning, unfortunately MIDNIGHT FM is far from perfect.

While MIDNIGHT FM proves to be a solid and relatively tight film throughout it lacks the extraordinary: it’s a movie you can watch, or cannot watch, either way makes no difference. You’re not going to miss anything that you cannot see on TV every second day of the week or the next best genre film brings to the table as well.

Without real highlight, without anything special to report, I am not sure what to write about: MIDNIGHT FM isn’t great, and it certainly isn’t bad, it’s an ok crime saga, a couple-compatible thriller made for a multiplex-audience seeking mild thrills but would otherwise be easily offended by I SAW THE DEVIL and the likes. MIDNIGHT FM is anything but award-winning material, so don’t let respective awards tell you otherwise (that’s not saying Soo-Ae’s performance isn’t worthy of a Best Actress award). Expect nothing much, and you’ll get exactly that.






When a detective-turned-private-eye investigates a serial murder case he himself becomes a prime suspect. Desperate to solve the case and clear his name, Kang resorts to the help of a young high-tech nerd who utilizes all means of modern communications to support Kang. Meanwhile a mysterious person begins to interfere in the case and attempts to manipulate Kang.


The thriller is written and directed by Kwon Hyeok-Jae and stars Sol Kyung-Gu, Lee Jeong-Jin, Oh Dal-Su, Song Sae-Byeok, Lee Seong-Min, Ju Jin-Mo, Moon Jung-Hee, Choi Ji-Ho and Lee Young-Hoon.





KOREA 2010  Directed by: Kim Kwang-Sik Written by: Kim Kwang-Sik Cast: Park Joong-Hoon, Jeong Yu-Mi, Park Won-Sang, Jeong Woo-Hyeok, Jeong In-Gi, Min Kyeong-Jin, Kwon-Se-In, Lim Ki-Hong, Yang Eun-Yong, Kim Keon

A young woman, Se-Jin, leaves her rural hometown for Seoul and a career in the IT business, all against the will of her conservative father. Soon after she got a position in an IT firm, the company goes broke and closes own, with Se-Jin losing her job and moving into a new apartment. There she meets Dong-Chul, a small-time gangster who lives next door and initially behaves like a real jerk. But the thing they have in common is that they are both jobless (or kind of) and on a losing streak, so they start hanging out after a while, getting closer and more acquainted with each other. When Se-Jin is being harassed while applying for a new job, Dong-Chul pays the guy a visit, beating him up badly, after which he ends up on a police station first, and later in bed with Se-Jin.

As if that wasn’t difficult enough already, one day her dad insists she sees him back home, and as he must not know about her unemployment Dong-Chul has to pretend to be her boyfriend. The plan works just a bit too well: her dad wants them to get married immediately, and they have no choice but to pretend that they do. But an unfortunate incident ruins the charade and leads to Se-Jin and Dong-Chul parting ways. Se-Jin‘s father wants her to stay away from Seoul once and for all, but Se-Jin goes for one last interview, not knowing that she’s about to run into Dong-Chul once again at this crucial point of her life.

I understand that for commercial reasons they made this all look like your average Korean RomCom (just look at the poster artwork), but MY DEAR DESPERADO is anything like it. It is a charming film though, with a great cast in an opposites attract / love at second sight scenario that both, the fabulous Park Jong-Hoon and Jeong Yu-Mi, master with ease without ever allowing the movie to lower its fairly high standards. MY DEAR DESPERADO is warm, funny and irresistibly human: united we stand, and united we fall is the motto as Se-Jin and Dong-Chul take on the rest of the world that is made of crooks and cowards.

The script is peppered with (more or less subtle) criticism of Korean society and the way things have always been, and beyond the façade of an entertaining and atypical boy-and-girl-next-door movie we find subtexts about emancipation, the need for the modernization of society, about its current double-standards and old-fashioned expectations towards roles, as well as about the economic downturn.

Looking at it from the angle of the economy MY DEAR DESPERADO is like a pendant to ATTACK THE GAS STATION (much more than its own sequel was). Essentially, DESPERADO is a recession movie, reflecting people’s changing lifestyles and conditions. A large part of its momentum comes from how people deal with change, how they adapt (or not). On the other hand it’s interesting to see how much the movie is driven by its female lead. The role of Se-Jin is one of the few in Korean cinema that is truly independent, doesn’t comply to male expectations and is rewarded for her stance at the end of the film (while usually we’d see some sort of repercussion at some point). That’s a rare thing, and I must applaud Kim Kwang-Sik for not compromising when writing the role and delivering a fine discourse on emancipation.

MY DEAR DESPERADO also shows a lot of subtle irony in dealing with organized crime and Korea’s widespread gangster sub-culture (I loved the valet parking joke), just as much as Mr. Kim has an eye for the details of everyday existence that we mostly overlook, but which in fact can tell us more about the way things work than scientific analysis. This is also what sets MY DEAR DESPERADO apart from other films with similar concept or subject: the film is scrutinizing life and absorbs a relevant essence. Its idea is not to be a “funny film” or a “romantic comedy”, but to tell us about men and women, about winners and losers, about dreams and reality.

While MY DEAR DESPERADO is not easily fitting genre labels, it rises above respective categories as a work that largely defies stereotyped thinking, and by doing so brings a lot of credibility to the table. It may not exactly be a political movie, nor an independent film; but it’s a great observer of life as it happens.