Korean film

THE HANDMAIDEN (2016)

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A film by Chan-wook Park

Cast: Min-hee Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Jin-woong Jo

South Korean director Park Chan-wook is probably best known for his 2003 Cannes Grand Prix winner Oldboy, and now he has come in with this other master piece The handmaiden

During 30s, during the Japanese colonization. A young woman is hired as a maid for a rich Japanese  living in a huge mansion under the thumb of a tyrannical uncle . But Sookee has a secret.

Park loves intricate narratives so Sarah Waters’ source material, the 2002 novel Fingersmith, fits  him well. You trow in there a pervert old man, something horrible in the basement, two beautiful woman, and a con artist,and a seemingly naive heiress all simmering together in a savory mixture of deception. Park moves the story from 19th century England to 1930s Korea under the Japanese occupation. The film has layer of mystery here in which you will be glue to the screen. Park has created a film of delightful erotic mystery that will please your brain. The Handmaiden is ultimately a tale of freedom and transformation very well choreograph as a four-course meal. The film has won the Grand prix at the Cannes film festival with the Prix du Jury.

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TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016)

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A film by Sang-ho Yeon

Cast: Yoo Gong, Dong-seok Ma, Woo-sik Choi

This film was presented at the 69 film cannes festival at a  midnight screening, “Train to Busan” will have startled more than a spectator, making the show (sometimes funny) and giving shivers for almost two hours. zombie movie in the greatest tradition in no way seeking to explain the reasons for the spread of a supposed virus, while this movie Korean manages its special effects while maintaining a frantic pace, and causes a surprise, returning to the classic mode.

You will follow a group of people stuck in a train, while surrounding with blood thirsty humans who turned violent, or the separation of the group between cars that will elevate the suspense. The director amplify the horror in keeping in the close place of a train with includes the stops or not at the other train station. It is one of the best horror film that will involve ordinary people fighting for their lives. The passagers includes cold single dad Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) and his sweet gradeschool daughter, Su-an (Su-an Kim); pregnant Sung-kyung (Yu-mi Jung) and her gruff husband, Sang-hwa (Dong-seok Ma); an entire athletic team (baseball bats that is used to beat the shit out of zombies. The film uses its moment of humor. A real little movie fun, stimulating  the survival instinct as well as  the thirst for destruction.

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THE WAILING (2016)

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A film by Hong-jin Na

Cast: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Woo-hee Chun

In the town of Gokseong, the wife of a ginseng farmer is killed and a police officer  Jong-gu (Kwak Do-won) is called in to investigate. The woman was brutally murdered as the corpse of the farmer was found in a bag at the same location and believed to be dragged there by a man covered in boils and a mysterious rash. Jong-gu has no leads until a mysterious woman (Chun Woo-hee) points him in the direction of a Japanese man (Jun Kunimara) who is rumored to be a ghost.

May the man hunt begins. Like I said before Korean cinema is reinventing itself with some interesting and creative story telling.the film is unlike any film you’ve seen this year and one of the most unusual experiences which are a little bizarre at times. This thriller is  a ghost story wrapped inside of a crime film and packaged with a crate of horror, to top it all off this film is unpredictable from the start. Then thing is it uses a bit of humor at the beginning where police officers Jong-gu and Seong-bok are idiots who are constantly giving each other a hard time and mocking the situation. It is a captivating thriller well written and thought out and that is the reason I watch foreign film as always int is not film like you standard american film. It is a different film and a completely a different experience. Hong-jin Na has an original idea here that is masterly filmed. This film is a combination of the exorcist, invasion of the body snatchers, Angel heart  rewritten. The other film from Korea to watch it is coming next month in France is the last train of Busan.

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THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG (

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A film by Sang-soo Im

Cast: Jae-ho Song, Suk-kyu Han, Yun-shik Baek

Based on the true story of President Park Chung-hee and the events leading up to his assassination in 1979.

Here is a touchy situation for director Sang-soo Im he knew that the government was not crazy of him telling the story. Plus they cut 4 minutes of the film, which now has the uncut version of the film on DVD that is the one that I watched. Sang-soo Im has film that one in between the Godfather and Good Fellows. like a thriller but with brutal force and bloody.President Park Chung-hee survived several assassination attempts, including two operations associated with North Korea, Park was eventually assassinated on 26 October 1979 by Kim Jae-gyu, the chief of his own security services.

Geuddae geusaramdeul the original title for the film actually means The People of That Time. The story is narrated by Kim Jae-gyu point of views when he decided he is going to kill the president and his guards, the thing is going to go in motion with some resistance from his man but Kim but them in their place and the execution goes forward. There are some comic moment in the film. Kim and his soldier shows no fear not even remorse of what they have done. Nether does the director he wrote the project himself and film it his own way . When the studio saw the film the rug was pulled out under their feet. The biggest distribution of film in Korea said to him they were pulling out of it. Luckily he found some one else and suddenly other countries bought it. It is not an easy film for his country to watch or for anyone for that matter. ironically Park’s first-born daughter, Park Geun-hye, is the current President of South Korea.

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THIRST (2009)

Thirst (2009)

A film by Chan-wook Park

Cast: Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim, Hae-suk Kim

This film won the Pix Du Jury at the Film Festival of Cannes. And yes it is a story about some blood thirsty vampire but a different one at that. It is about a catholic priest which a priest is a good man but it is crucial in this story. He died because he volunteered as a subject for a deadly medical experiment. He is resurrected as a vampire after receiving a transfusion of tainted blood not his fault there. here is when it becomes interesting, he does not seek his fang into victim and drink their blood. Instead he gets it at the hospital from patient who are in a coma dying like I said he is a good priest it is crucial of the story.

Again here how it becomes interesting he is extremely attracted to a childhood friend who is married (nice touch there) he tries to get close to her. She is mistreated by her husband. now I do not want to divulge too much information but he is triyng his best to resist the temptation, the girl on the other hand goes for it full throttle, and what happens next is a thirsty blood bath à la Korean with comedy and gruesome flavor.

Like I said before there is a new wave of Korean film makers that are very imaginative and inventive. This one however is original and well written. The cinematography is brilliant, I love the colors here. It is a beautiful love story out of the ordinary a realistic vampire story that is going to get addictive. By the way who wants to live forever on the blood of the innocent not a good thing. This one is best seen by drinking a bloody Mary.

Thirst (2009)

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SEA FOG (2014)

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A film by Sung-bo Shim

Cast: Yun-seok Kim, Yoo-chun Park, Ye-ri Han “Haemoo” (Sea Fog) is based on a 2007 play about an incident in 2001 in which 25 illegal immigrants died while being smuggled into South Korea. On 7 October 2001, the vessel Taechangho dumped into the ocean the bodies of immigrants who had suffocated while being hidden in the fish storage tank. according to the press the boat had taken 60 Chinese and Korean-Chinese and there the bodies of the dead over board. South Korea made an official apology to China about the incident. Now keep in mind it is not based on a true story, it is base on the incident in an other word the screenwriter said to himself what if this would have happen and made his own story. It became a love story but a dark one.

The story goes like this a fishing boat gets back from a fishing trip. But not too many fishes has been caught. The captain has an old boat and does not want to buy a new boat but remodeled the old one. A friend tells him he can make big money in transporting illegal immigrants. Captain Cheol-joo (Kim Yoon-seok) accept the deal without the consulting the crew. And things began to go wrong. Well first there is the fog that won’t go away. Hong-mae (Han Ye-ri) is one of two women of the group. They say a woman on the ship is bad luck two is trouble. That is the superstition that they believe. You know the Murphy Law once something is going to go wrong everything is going to go wrong.

The thing is that one of the sailor falls in love with her. the other wants her too but for different reasons. People are desperate in search of a better life and will do anything to get there. Even if the condition are not so good they will take a chance. A friend of mine used to say if I have to go to hell to get to Paradise so be it. In 2008, 58 Burmese illegals on their way to Thailand suffocated in a seafood lorry. In 2003, a truck driver abandoned a trailer in South Texas. The milk trailer contained 60 illegal aliens. one of them was a 5-year-old boy. It is all over the news. Like I said people will risk their life for a better life and they will pay a lot of money to get there. Like I said with the Korean cinema it is a new wave going on. They does their film with better story telling, and character driven they have reinvented themselves reinvented cinema. They take risk. Of course there is some humor into it. And like i said a love story is this environment is taking place. The tension is building around the crew that you can caught it with a knife. Now the ending I thought they were going that way with it but they didn’t I should have remember that I was watching a foreign film not an American film. Great ending in this one.

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Sea Fog

HARD DAY (2015)

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A film by Seong-hoon Kim

Cast: Lee Sun Gyun, Cho Jin-Woong, Man-shik Jeong

The Korean title  for this movie translates as “Take It to the End”. Go Geon-soo (Lee Sun-kyun) is a homicide detective driving home on the phone with his co-worker cops who tells him to get in the office to get them the key to his desk because the internal Affair are coming to investigate the all team. Needless to say he is on the way to a funeral his mom passed away as he is on the phone he hits someone dead on. He gets out of the car and the man that he hits is dead. He tries to cover it up and things is not going well at all. Will he be able to go through the next 24 hours without a scratch?

I love Korean film. They are inventive, intelligent , innovative and crazy. Some how the Korean has re-invented the wheel on movies. Okay here it is Go Geon-soo is a cop but a bad cop, he got in all kind of stuff that is why the internal affairs are investigating him and his team. So he hits the man and kills him so he decided to get the body in the trunk and go to his mother’s funeral and his day starts at night. and he has to get rid of the body. Well you know what I mean right? I am not telling you more than that you know why by now. Seong-hoon Kim created a moody, grippy black comedy action film. voila!!!! You will learn quickly that he is a corrupt cop and that is why is wants to get rid of the body. It is a kind of different kind of film that you are used too. It moves well and you will be on your edge of your seat. I knew the ending because I have seen too many films. But it didn’t matter to me it is still dam good. The movie has been nominated for seven Grand Bell Awards by the Motion Pictures Association of Korea, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. A must see.

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