Posts Tagged ‘Kim Eung-Su’



KOREA 2010  Directed by: Woo Min-Ho  Written by: Woo Min-Ho Produced by: Jeong Hoon-Tak Editing by: Kim Sun-Min Music by: Lee Jae-Jin Cast: Kim Myeong-Min, Eom Ki-Jun, Kim So-Hyun, Park Joo-Mi, Lee Byeong-Jun, Oh Kwang-Rok, Kim Eung-Su, Min Bok-Gi, Lee Ho-Jae, Lee Jang-Won

A priest’s young daughter is getting kidnapped, and in the wake of her disappearance the man of god turns against his creator and abandons his profession, losing his faith in justice and the hope that everything will be fine in the future. He takes on an ordinary job, but his wife doesn’t give up searching for Hye Lin, until one day she believes she saw her with a man, presumably her kidnapper, and follows them, but tragically gets hit by a car before she can close in on them.

In the hospital she is fighting for her life, lying in a coma, while her husband is devastated but doesn’t know what to do – until he runs into a guy in the parking lot, an incident that sets off a series of mysterious events. Before Joo Young Soo knows, he finds out that his daughter is still alive, but that doesn’t help him much as the whereabouts is unknown. But nothing can stop a loving father, and when a game of life and death begins the outcome is unpredictable.

South Korean filmmakers have perfected the crime thriller to a degree that is good and bad at the same time, but remarkable nevertheless. On a positive note, there is currently no other country constantly releasing equally solid genre movies, flicks that impress through strong scripts, detailed characterization, precise timing, the right dosage of action and violence, high quality direction and cinematography, and a good sense for balancing reason and emotion all along the way. MAN OF VENDETTA is exactly that sort of movie, with a tendency towards calculated exploitation thanks to its religious subtext and the fact that the victim is an underage girl.

On the other hand, once you are familiar with the likes of MAN OF VENDETTA, you can’t help but feel that it all tends to be a bit formulaic, that you have seen many equally good movies recently, that none of them really stands out and that there is very little surprise in the viewing experience. Despite many of these films being really good, they just don’t vow you, and it seems as if the industry is gearing towards a turning point, the moment when the trademark recipe of how to approach the crime film genre turns into the opposite of innovation. What comes out is a sea of sameness, albeit on a considerably high level.

I find it very hard to nominate any of the recent thrillers as truly genuine or remarkable; some may stand out for the wrong reasons, but you wouldn’t want to count that, would you? It’s up to the audience to pick a favorite. MAN OF VENDETTA is on par with most of the above-average peers, missing nothing except a reason to say it’s great.





KOREA 2010  Directed by: Kim Dong-Wook Written by: Kim Dong-Wook, Seo Mi-Ae (short story) Produced by: Kim Hyeon-Shin, Kim Young-Min  Cinematography: Lee Ki-Won  Cast: Kim Dong-Wook, Yu Oh-Seong, Shim Eun-Kyeong, Kim Eung-Su, Lee Mi-Do, Kim Sun-Hyuk, Han Seong-Sik, Kim Mi-So, Lee Jae-Gu, Song Ok-Suk, Sung Ji-Ru

HAPPY KILLERS is based on a short story by Seo Mi-Ae and deals with a serial killer who commits a crime every rainy Thursday. A young detective is on his trail but the police simply can’t find the murderer and put an end to this, so finally the public turns against the authorities, because the killer is depreciating the value of their homes and is posing a constant threat. Then a former businessmen who has lost everything due to business failure shows up at the crime scenes, trying to find the killer himself. But is he really just the amateur Sherlock Holmes he pretends to be?

It will always stay the secret of Kim Dong-Wook why exactly he chose this particular mystery short; looking at the outcome you wouldn’t think this messy little movie is based on anything but a messy little script. The film has virtually nothing to do with the short.

HAPPY KILLERS is a movie about, wait a moment, what exactly? A serial killer, a young detective, a loser turning private eye, family tragedies, career issues, a public protest movement, or? The film has no focus at all times, swaying back and forth the entire running time. It’s absurd that the murders are all irrelevant, as are the victims, and that the movie is never integrating the crimes into its plot. Equally irrelevant is the question who the killer is – we’re chasing him for more than 90 minutes but once we find him it doesn’t matter if it’s Tom, Dick or Harry who slashed his way through the rainy nights.

Even more amazing are all the underwhelming plot threads Kim has invented to deviate our attention, hoping we don’t notice that HAPPY KILLERS has not enough beef to make a business case at all. Whoever has greenlit the movie must have been color-blind, because HAPPY KILLERS isn’t about anything at all, it’s a best-of compilation of Korean thrillers, action movies and comedies. Actually it’s just a faded copy of many standard ingredients of Korean cinema, the same ingredients that made us turn our backs on movies made in Korea in recent years. HAPPY KILLERS shows the same lack of originality and absence of innovation.

Usually it would be the right time now to write something like “on a positive note…” as mostly not all is bad and journalistic objectivity demands looking at all aspects of a film, but I must say there is no bright side. The best you can say is that certain aspects of the film’s craftsmanship are fairly average. Meaning, no matter how you look at it HAPPY KILLERS doesn’t qualify for the big screen, and neither should it ever enter your living room.