Posts Tagged ‘korean movies’

PAD THAI: SORRY SA RANG HE YO a.k.a. OLD LOVE IN KOREA, SORRY! I LOVE YOU [GAO RAK TEE GAULEE | เการักที่เกาหลี ซอรี่..ซารังเฮโย | 쏘리 사랑해요]

2010/07/17

http://www.phranakornfilm.com/

Fitting perfectly to a country that is full with teenagers wishing to be Korean (or in love with one) SORRY SA RANG HE YO tells the story of a young woman who travels to Korea and falls in love with a local actor. The rest is a romantic soap in 35mm format, appealing largely to teens and mothers-in-law.

Directed by Poj Arnon, starring Haru Yamakushi, No Ajoo, Saran Sirirak, Ratchanon Sukprakob, Pattrick Piyers, Tanya Rattanamakul, Phutawan Techatiwanit, Kachapa Tancharej and Palwarisah Penchad.

J.

THE OUTLAW [MUBEOBJA | 무법자]

2010/07/01

http://www.outlaw2010.co.kr/

KOREA 2010  Directed by: Kim Cheol-Han  Written by: Kim Cheol-Han Cast: Kam Woo-Seong, Jang Shin-Yeong, Lee Seung-Min, Choi Won-Young, Yun Ji-Min, Tak Teu-In, Ha Seong-Cheol, Kim Min-Jwa, Cheon Seong-Hun, Jang Suk-Hyun, Kim Min-Ki, Park Ah-In

THE OUTLAW is a movie that urges me to write my resume up-front – because THE OUTLAW is plain disgusting. Its on-screen violence is, its exploitation of the subject matter is and its rotten attitude is.

For the first half THE OUTLAW is painting a more than unrealistic picture of a nihilistic world of rape, torture, mutilation and 24/7 violent crime that happens just for the fun of deranged criminals. All that comes in a highly concentrated dosage, the dark part of our existence in a nutshell, but the way it is presented here surpasses every Telenovela or Lakorn by far. What’s supposed to be dramaturgy ends up being relentless razzmatazz. Everyone except the police and their spouse seem to be knife- and gun-wielding, cold-blooded killers. Everyone. Even friends, siblings, you name it.

It’s even worse when it comes to the movie’s intentions: it takes us down that ugly road only to justify the hero’s vengeful acts later. Even more, it manipulates the audience into enjoying the violence detective Oh inflicts on the delinquents. There is only black and white in THE OUTLAW, there are no doubts, second thoughts, there is no reason to not find revenge an appropriate method to create and measure justice.

Because injustice happens on so many levels, in so many forms, so overwhelmingly everywhere, and THE OUTLAW makes it so painful to watch that finally we crave for salvation. The icing on the cake is that THE OUTLAW is even stirring anti-American sentiment for its cause, as some of the criminals are of Korean-American descent and as US citizens are part of and protected by the US armed forces.

We are supposed to buy into an eye-for-an-eye religion – stopping short of killing in the name of god (what a coincidence that even detective Oh’s brother, a priest, is falling from grace and kills a woman related to him). On the surface THE OUTLAW makes us believe that Oh has lost his faith, but in a weird and hard to rationalize way it also suggests that Oh is the right hand of god, restoring justice on earth on god’s behalf. Accompanied by a funky soundtrack, dressed in a cool outfit, he does the work of an avenging angel. There is even time for funny jokes.

Some of the “creative” ways Oh stages his revenge later are so conventional that it turns this oh-so-hardboiled revenge flick into little less than a DIE HARD or SPEED rip-off, losing its edge quickly and turning into a mainstream action movie. The second half of the film then is also lousily directed, acted and choreographed. In fact, it is boring and as realistic as TOM & JERRY – the movie finishes in caper-style.

Altogether THE OUTLAW adds up to huge pile of depression and agony and decay, but nothing else. Sure, Oh becomes what the criminals are he’s hunting. And Oh repeatedly says that he will go to hell (just as his brother will for what he did). But at the end he’s getting away with it, celebrating victory, roaming in a chic summer suit, once more suggesting that he is actually on a mission from god. So what’s the point? As there are no consequences, there’s no learning. It all just made him (and supposedly us) feel real good.

The movie ends with the words “this movie does not represent real people or situations”. No shit.

J.


THE SECRET REUNION [UI-HYEONG-JE | 의형제]

2010/06/24

http://song-gang.co.kr

KOREA 2010  Directed by: Hun Jang Written by: Hun Jang, Min-Seok Jang Produced by: Myong-Chul Song  Editing: Na-Yeong Nam  Cast: Song Kang-Ho, Kang Dong-Won, Yun Hee-Seok, Park Hyeok-Kwon, Ko Chang-Seok, Lee So-Yun, Bae Yong-Geun, Hong Young-Geun, Jo Seok-Hyeon

Six years have passed since detective Lee lost his job in the aftermath of a mission that ultimately went wrong: leading a task force that hunts down spies from the North Lee closed in on a prime target, but instead of informing his superiors he went ahead to capture one of the most notorious assassins of the communist state. And the plan unfortunately doesn’t work out – instead of fame and glory a bloodbath and disciplinary action are waiting for Lee. On top of it he didn’t just lose the trail of his chief enemy, he also was duped and lost his only lead that could help him find the killer: Song Ji-Won, his right hand who escaped in bright daylight with Lee standing by.

Now this all doesn’t matter anymore: Lee has left the force and works as a private eye specialized in finding runaway wives from Vietnam who are married to Korean nationals and mostly try to get away after years of abuse. One fine day though Lee gets into a fight with the Vietnamese mob in a factory and has to be rescued by one of the co-workers who turns out to be Song Ji-Won. Even after six years Lee has not forgotten his face – and neither has Song forgotten Lee’s.

Since both men cannot be at to each other’s throats instantly a slow and silent duel begins, starting with Lee inquiring about Song’s Vietnamese language skills and so forth. Finally they both decide to follow the common wisdom to keep friends close and enemies even closer: Lee offers Song a job and lets him stay in his apartment, Song accepts as he earns more than in the factory and needs the money to get his family over the border as he is considered a defective agent since the incident and charged with treason (which he didn’t commit, but that’s another, less relevant subplot). As both men learn more about each other, gain respect for each other and almost become buddies it gets more difficult for them to decide what to do: pull the trigger rather sooner than later, or live and let live.

THE SECRET REUNION is an excellent movie about the North-South conflict and the personal conflict between two men whose existence is defined by the existence of the enemy. Their professional life as much as their personal beliefs are deeply influenced by their distaste for the other side, and it comes to the point when we can feel that they hesitate to accept the other one as equal as it means that the foundation of what constitutes their reality would collapse completely. It is great to see another wonderful performance of Song Kang-Ho as well as the charismatic presence of Kang Dong-Won – both of them together with the elaborate script make THE SECRET REUNION one of the best political thrillers since JOINT SECURITY AREA (J.S.A.).

Now despite its clever and detailed story, fine acting and technical accomplishment you might find its moods wings a bit puzzling: THE SECRET REUNION starts off extremely violent, just to indulge later in a rather psychological duel between Lee and Song, until the movie finally returns to action once again, just before it presents us a sugary happy ending. The ending feels too much like tried and tested, and I would be surprised if this was the only ending that was originally scripted. To be fair, it works nevertheless, but it doesn’t feel right.

Also THE SECRET REUNION leaves a less compact impression than J.S.A. or SHIRI as the changes in style are quite drastic. It may not feel out-of-place, but you can’t help noticing that there’s a bit of disruption along the way, even if all that change is closely linked to significant turning points of the story.

It is wise to bear on mind that the beginning of THE SILENT REUNION is not the absolute benchmark for the rest of the film and that the movie has little to do with fashionable mayhem, but instead is staging an intense stand-off between two antagonists and quickly develops into a political thriller/drama with elements of black comedy. Despite that, or because of that, THE SILENT REUNION marks one of the Korean movie highlights of the year.

J.