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Thread: Korea Path

  1. #16
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    Bin-jip (2004) - 3-Iron

    Directed by Ki-duk Kim

    Starring Seung-yeon Lee, Hee Jae

    A film where almost everthing is unspoken, emotions are shown with the eyes and with body language.

    Tae Suk is a burglar with a difference, he fixes things, does the washing and steals nothing, he rescues a battered wife and together they continue his bizarre lifestyle until they get caught.

    Surreal and ethereal, the film plays out like a modern folk tale or myth, this is one of the most enigmatic and haunting films I’ve seen and one I know I will watch again.

    As for the meaning of the title(s):

    The original title "Bin Jip" translates as empty rooms or houses, this title doesn't just represent the empty rooms/ houses that Tae Suk enters but as Ki-duk Kim explains, "We are all empty houses waiting for someone to open the lock and set us free."

    Ki-duk Kim also commented on the name change to 3-Iron:

    "People who play golf would know that 3 iron is the least used club. Imagine the 3 iron stucked in an expensive leathery golf bag but only rarely used. Its image parallels that of an abandoned person or an empty house. At the same time it is the tool with which Tae-Suk rescues Sun-Hwa and so signifies a hopeful change as well."

    Highly recommended and one that will stay with you, also probably his most accessable to date.

    Cheers Trev

    BBFC rating 15
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  2. #17
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    Arahan jangpung daejakjeon (2004) Arahan

    Directed by Seung-wan Ryoo

    Starring Seung-beom Ryu, So-yi Yoon

    Arahan was nearly everything that I thought "Kung Fu Hustle" should have been, it is a martial arts comedy that takes a great many sly digs at it’s own genre. As with Kung Fu Hustle, there are also scenes that parody The Matrix but they’re not overdone.

    The joy of this film is that the audience is carried along with the joke; there are the odd winks and nudges when things look as though they’re taking a turn for the serious to lighten things up though there are a couple of scenes of (to me) excessive violence which are there to supposedly give the central character motivation (imagination is never at the forefront with this type of film).

    The story itself is nothing new, good guy turned bad, locked up for centuries, accidentally released by workmen, tries to take over the world. Good guys aren’t powerful enough to stop him, find the chosen one just in time, chosen one saves the day. Now how many films does that remind you of?

    The bad guy (former good guy) is a strange one though, he looks like a Korean version of Jesus (at least how we’re used to seeing him) or a rock star. The action scenes both armed and unarmed are very well choreographed, some of it on a par with Hero and the like but the comedy accent which is quite subtle and genuinely funny (not forced) isn’t forgotten.

    Recommended but only as a rental for a bit of light entertainment.

    Cheers Trev

    BBFC rated 15 justified for the odd serious violent scenes.
    The more I learn the less I know.

  3. #18
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    Shilje sanghwang (2000) Real Fiction

    Directed by Ki-duk Kim

    Starring Jin-mo Ju

    A shooting time of just over 3 hours and a running time of about 72 minutes, this is Ki-duk Kim’s Real Fiction.

    These are just some of the comments from various reviews. Personally although I think it lacks the depth of any of his other films, I still see this as a worthy effort.

    “his most potent example of pointless revenge and violence without even an emotional core to make it worthwhile for mere entertainment”

    “Real Fiction is an amateurish and pretentious waste of eighty minutes from a director who has since gone on to produce much better things.”


    Maybe some reviewers didn’t bother watching the whole film, I don’t know but some interpretations are so wrong that I find it hard to believe they watched past the first 30 minutes! So an artist goes on a rampage and in one day kills the people who have hurt him most deeply in life, from a cheating girlfriend, an army buddy who constantly bullied him to a customer who shredded and binned a portrait he had just completed for them and on and on. If I explain the film any further it will necessarily contain spoilers and I also think it’s one you need to analyse yourself.

    Don’t believe the blurb about it being exploitational though, yes there are violent deaths but you don’t see them, your imagination does the work for you, you will see people shot but not in a realistic manner, blood comes out like a fine red powder, more theatrical than realistic.

    My analysis is that of the director exorcising himself of his own demons, of course that is only my opinion and I could be completely wrong.

    It’s an experimental film in the way it’s been shot and to be fair Ki-duk Kim has not failed yet to surprise me with each film I’ve seen.

    Cheers Trev.

    BBFC rated 15
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  4. #19
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    Oseam (2003)

    Directed by Baek-yeob Seong

    Animation.

    A tearjerker but not the best.

    Based on a novel by Chae-bong Jeong, this is the second interpretation although I’m unsure whether the first was animated or live action.

    A Buddhist fable telling the story of 5 year old Gilson and his older blind sister Gami, they wander looking for their mother and are taken care of by Buddhist monks. Gami knows the truth of their mother’s disappearance but finds she cannot tell Gilson because of the pain it would bring.

    At the monastery, Gilson continuously gets himself into trouble until he is taken under wing by one of the monks and they head off to a nearby mountain retreat to meditate and learn, things go fine until the monk is caught in a furious snowstorm as he’s heading back from the local town market and Gilson is left at the retreat by himself.

    This is a tear jerker but cannot compare with Grave of the Fireflies for unadulterated misery, one weak point though is the character animation, it’s not bad but it is pretty bland especially compared to the backgrounds, some of which are amazingly beautiful. The only songs are Korean folk songs sung by the brother and sister plus of course you have the Buddhist monks chanting

    All in all a worthy peace of work, the story will touch you and the animation while not outstanding is fine. Recommended viewing for all ages except the very young.

    .Oscar's comment for Oseam.

    Cheers Trev

    No BBFC rating but certainly no higher than PG.

    Thanks to hengcs for his recommendation
    Last edited by trevor826; 09-28-2005 at 06:45 AM.
    The more I learn the less I know.

  5. #20
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    Haepi-endeu (1999) Happy End

    Directed by Ji Woo Chung

    Starring Min-sik Choi, Do-yeon Jeon, Jin-mo Ju

    This is one hell of a film, we start off with a couple meeting up for an extremely passionate session. Switch to a middle aged man sitting in a second hand book store thumbing through some romantic novels, the owner of the shop asks him if he’s going to buy the book he’s reading, the man “Min-ki” says no, because to him “A real love story, it’s so sad it breaks your heart” and the book wasn’t good enough.

    Why should I quote what Min-ki said? Because I think it’s one of the most important lines in the film, people comment that the film despite its title doesn’t have a happy ending, I’d say for Min-ki it has a literal (in every sense of the word) “Happy End.”

    It turns out that the couple we first met are old lovers, the passion is red hot but the problem is, the woman Bo-ra is married to Min-ki and they have a baby daughter. Bo-ra works at a school for teaching English as does her lover. Min-ki a former banker is unemployed and gives the impression that he’s more than happy spending his days in the book shop and his evenings watching soaps. He’s pretty useless around the house too leaving most of the work for his wife; he comes across as lazy and uncaring so it’s no real wonder that Bo-ra is having an affair.

    But not everything is as it seems, the overall story has started before we join it and Min-ki is aware of more than he lets on and is not the tame cuckold we are lead to believe. Little fragments of evidence add up and another important change occurs in the bookshop as he switches from reading romance to mystery novels.

    Bo-ra on the other hand is finding her lover a little too clingy despite the fact that she is incredibly possessive with him and wants a break to put some effort into her marriage. But it’s too late, the plans are in motion and a few more nudges are all Min-ki needs to finish it.


    Spoiler alert


    What follows is one of the most brutally realistic totally premeditated murder scenes I can remember seeing, again I’ve read reviews and comments suggesting he lost it and flipped, no chance! Everything he does is very carefully planned, not only the murder but also the incrimination of his wife’s lover as the killer, there are tears after but these are the tears of his “sad, broken hearted Happy End” not tears of remorse. He is left with the one thing he does care about, his daughter, the strange thing about that is the baby probably isn't even his!

    End of spoiler alert


    Brilliant acting from the two leads, a well thought out if somewhat controversial plot and definitely only suitable for adults.

    I thought it was excellent but give it a cautious recommendation.

    Cheers Trev.

    No BBFC rating but without a doubt an 18.
    The more I learn the less I know.

  6. #21
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    Happy End sounds good, if a bit extreme. I'm not familiar with Ji Woo Chung, has he done anything else?

  7. #22
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    I'm not familiar with Ji Woo Chung, has he done anything else?

    Also known as Jung Ji-woo, the only other thing I know he's done is a short film - A Bit Bitter in 1996. I have no idea what's happened to him since.

    I knew it was a controversial film before seeing it and when watching it I thought it must be because of the sex scenes which are quite strong between the lovers as opposed to the dutiful scene between husband and wife. That may have sparked some controversy if it wasn't for the scene mentioned in the spoiler section above which is chillingly done especially compared to the likes of "Oldboy".

    I forgot to bring up the fact that the film resonated with Koreans at the time because a serious economic crash put many "professionals" on the unemployment lists. Min-ki was somebody they could empathise with, although not with what he did.

    Cheers Trev
    Last edited by trevor826; 08-30-2005 at 05:57 AM.
    The more I learn the less I know.

  8. #23
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    Thanks for the info.

    Do you think there's anything interesting here, especially East Asian? You can do a search by country if you like or click on Film List at the top for the whole program.

  9. #24
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    Good grief, I can't believe the choice. How on earth are you going to pick just a few films from these.

    I'll have a good look but I'm sure you are just as, if not more capable of sorting out some good films.

    Just from a fairly brief look:

    Be With Me - Eric Khoo

    Three Times - Hou Hsiao-Hsien

    Citizen Dog - Wisit Sasanatieng

    April Snow - Hur Jin-ho

    Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - Park Chan-wook

    Everlasting Regret - Stanley Kwan


    Cheers Trev.

    I'll have to take a further look, there are far too many from all around the world, now why can't we have a festival like this?

    Biggest surprise, seeing Deepa Mehta's "Water" on the list. I'd given this one up after all the trouble they had trying to film it.
    Last edited by trevor826; 09-01-2005 at 04:18 PM.
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  10. #25
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    Thanks a lot for the choices. I should've known about Khoo's Be With Me with my conversations with hengcs. I'll try to add it depending on the schedule.

    Water opens the festival and I think Mehta deserves it for all the troubles she's gone through. She didn't get the actors she had for her initial attempt with the film (Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, both from Fire), so she went with a more mainstream cast.

  11. #26
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    Still to come.

    Oasis
    Tears Unfair Life
    Memories of Murder
    The Surrogate Womb
    My Wife is a Gangster
    Untold Scandal
    Last Present
    Ardor
    Marriage is a Crazy Thing
    Nowhere to Hide
    Indian Summer
    Woman is the Future of Man
    Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
    My Sassy Girl
    My Beautiful Girl Mari
    Ditto
    The Way Home
    Natural City
    Take Care of my Cat
    Mago
    Musa the Warrior
    The Quiet Family
    Gojitmal
    A Tale of Two Sisters
    Phone
    The Day the Pig Fell Down the Well
    Public Enemy …….and more.


    Cheers Trev
    Last edited by trevor826; 12-14-2005 at 02:52 AM.
    The more I learn the less I know.

  12. #27
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    Geomi sup (2004) Spider Forest

    Directed by Il-gon Song

    Starring Woo-seong Kam, Jung Suh

    Kang Min wakes up in a dark forest, bloody and physically battered with little if any recollection of how or why he is there, regaining some of his consciousness he makes his way through the trees and stumbles across a cabin. Once inside he discovers a mans corpse, copious amounts of blood splatter the floors and furniture, he also finds the near dead body of his girlfriend, again severely battered. As she dies in his arms she points, he follows the direction and sees what he believes is the killer, the chase begins until he is the one caught out and knocked out.

    As he regains consciousness, he again sets off in pursuit of the murderer until he enters a tunnel and gets knocked over by a car. The story is then taken up as he wakes up in hospital having been comatose for a couple of weeks.

    What starts as a fairly straightforward murder mystery is raised a few notches by the unfolding story which heads off on tangents that will please fans of David Lynch, a twisted path with some ends that lead nowhere and others that take intricate twists in oblique directions.

    The murder scene itself is graphic and the film is definitely made for a mature audience, the performances are convincing and because of the innumerable twists and turns, the film has good rewatch value.

    There is a chapter relevant to the film's title “Spider forest” which heads off into the realms of folk tales but I haven’t been able to find anything else to corroborate this mythology.

    Well constructed, nicely paced and not for those who like to be spoon fed, this gets a thumbs up from me.

    Cheers Trev

    No BBFC rating but definitely 18

    Available on Region 3 DVD.
    Last edited by trevor826; 09-14-2005 at 08:55 AM.
    The more I learn the less I know.

  13. #28
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    Siworae (2000) Il Mare

    Directed by Hyun-seung Lee

    Starring Jung-Jae Lee (Dogme # 7 – Interview), Ji-hyun Jun (My Sassy Girl)


    A romantic drama based around a house (Il Mare), a dog (Cola), a beautiful girl (Kim Eun-ju), a young architect (Han Sung-hyun) and a magical time teleporting mailbox. This wasn't a huge commercial hit in South Korea but judging by the IMDB rating, it's a big hit with the people who have seen it.

    Yet another Korean film getting a Hollywood make-over, will the remake hit the spot? We’ll have to wait and see, but I have my doubts.

    The very amiable cast take us through an easy going storyline of two owners/tenants of a designer house, separated by time yet connected by a mailbox and their attachment to a scruffy little dog, Cola. They correspond via the mailbox, first in disbelief then with growing attachment as they realise the truth in their unique situation. Han Sung-hyun, with the benefit of being in the past is able to see Kim Eun-ju in her slightly younger years and can help her with some minor problems, although of course she is unaware of his help at the time.

    They arrange to meet at a set time and date on a beautiful beach on Cheju Island (also featured in Love Wind Love Song) but for some reason Han Sung-hyun fails to turn up. The rest of the film revolves around why he couldn't make it until after some serious heartache and soul searching from Kim Eun-ju the tale reaches it’s climax and resolution. Will they ever meet? Can they ever meet? The only way you’ll find out is by watching the film!

    Very easy going, light, fluffy and definitely one for a romantic evening. It won’t tax your brain but it may well entertain you.

    Cheers Trev.

    No BBFC rating but no more than a 12.

    Region 3 ntsc dvd available from several retailers.
    Last edited by trevor826; 09-21-2005 at 03:07 AM.
    The more I learn the less I know.

  14. #29
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    Wonderful Days (2003) Sky Blue

    Directed by Moon-saeng Kim, Park Sunmin

    Animation

    An imitation anime from South Korea, the basic plot could have come from any one of dozens of Japanese anime films or series. It’s the usual world in a mess, polluted, most of humanity wiped out with a small percentage of the survivors living it up while the rest are just fodder to provide the luxurious lifestyle of the few.

    Of course someone is forced to rise up and cause a revolt against the few leaving the world a better place for everyone, ridding the world of the pollution that was deemed necessary to provide the perfect lifestyle for the elite. It’s all been done before and with a lot more originality and style, Miyazaki’s “Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind” is the perfect example of the dangers of waste and pollution. Wonderful Days aspires to be a Korean “Akira” but is unfortunately more of a “Spriggan”, the shallow storyline is only one of its problems.

    Graphically, there’s a mix of 2D animation for the characters in a 3D computer generated environment, I have yet to see an animation like this work. A lot of scale models were also used then ditgitised to fit in with the overall look but they stand out like a sore thumb. CG only works with 2D animation when it is used sparingly and sympathetically within the style of the animation.

    A plus point, a really nice sound track with a good variety of music that blends well together and within the context of the film.

    I can’t recommend this because of the Clichéd plot, the bizarre mix of animation styles and the fact that it is a pale attempt to imitate anime. It's not poor enough to list as a "Bad Korea Choice" but it is lacking in any sort of originality.

    Cheers Trev.

    BBFC rated 15.

    Available on region 3 ntsc dvd.
    Last edited by trevor826; 09-22-2005 at 11:02 AM.
    The more I learn the less I know.

  15. #30
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    Save the Green Planet! is a truly bizarre film and not one that's easily recommended. I do have a problem with the ending which has a feel of being tagged on, maybe as a crowd pleaser.

    I like your "crazy-Korean-comedy" phrase, it certainly suits quite a few films, most of which have grown up themes but a comic angle that would suit 5 to 10 year olds.

    Thanks for your comments arsaib4.

    Cheers Trev

    P.S I should be posting a few reviews over the next couple of weeks, apart from the ones listed we also have Tartans 2005 Asia extreme film tour in from Friday.
    The more I learn the less I know.

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