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Category 'Korea'

The Host (KOREA 2006)

Director : Bong Joon-ho
Cast : Song Kang-Ho, Byun Hee-Bong, Bae Doo-Na, Park Hae-Il, Go Ah-Sung, Lee Jae-Eung, Kim Roi-Ha, Park No-Shik, Yoon Je-Moon, Im Pil-Sung

Synopsis
As it has done for ages, the Han River continues to pierce the very center of the capital city Seoul. But one day in the year 2000….Through an unfortunate incident, a creature of an obscure nature is conceived in the waters of the river. As the creature slowly starts to grow in the depths of the river, people fail to sense signs of an impending disaster, devoting themselves to the Korea-Japan World Cup soccer finals, the President elections and to their individual lives. Then one day in 2005, in front of countless citizens taking a stroll and enjoying the weekend on the banks of the Han River, the creature reveals itself in a shocking display of horror.

Review
by Jin Hien Lau

Infusing the high concept entertainment values of Jaws or Snakes On A Plane with Oscar worthy portrayal of humanity’s struggle for survival with a pinch of tongue in cheek anti-bureaucracy subtext. That’s the best I can describe Bong Joon Ho’s “The Host” (Goemul) .

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Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (KOREA 2002)

Director : Park Chanwook
Cast : Kang-ho Song, Ha-kyun Shin, Du-na Bae, Ji-Eun Lim, Bo-bae Han and Se-dong Kim

Synopsis
This is the story of Ryu, a deaf man, and his sister, who requires a kidney transplant. Ryu’s boss, Park, has just laid him off, and in order to afford the transplant, Ryu and his girlfriend develop a plan to kidnap Park’s daughter. Things go horribly wrong, and the situation spirals rapidly into a cycle of violence and revenge.

Review
by Edward Tang

Park Chanwook is awesome. Not only did he produce the ever popular Oldboy (Excellent movie) but he also put his name on JSA: Joint Security Area, a masterpiece in it’s own right. His third film in the Vengeance Saga (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) picked up the best picture award at the Korean Blue Dragon Awards. Basically, the guy knows how to direct movies that deserve attention and are well worth the price of admission. The same can be said for his first Vengeance-fueled romp in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Okay, so it doesn’t have the BIG surprise at the end or power that Oldboy dishes out but who cares? Sympathy has mucho going for it, including great direction, storytelling and some great performances. I’ve seen three out of the four and I’m currently creaming my pants in anticipation for the third because a guy like this doesn’t come around often when he can make three involving films that basically punch you in the head. And don’t think that you won’t ask for another smack in the face, because this kind of pain is awesome.

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Oldboy (KOREA 2003)

Director : Park Chanwook
Cast :  Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-heong Kang, Dae-han Ji, Dal-su Oh, Byeong-ok Kim and Seung-Shin Lee.

Synopsis
Oh Dae-su is an ordinary Seoul businessman with a wife and little daughter. After a drunken night on the town, he is abducted and locked up in a strange, private “prison.” No one will tell him why he’s there and who his jailer is and his fury builds to single-minded focus of revenge. 15 years later, he is unexpectedly freed, given a new suit, a cell phone and 5 days to unravel the mystery and discover the identity of the enemy who had him imprisoned.

Review
by Edward Tang

Basically seeing this film for the first time is probably one of the better experiences you can have watching cinema. I didn’t think that film could live up to expectations. Frankly, I was surprised that this film was over two years old when I first saw it because it felt so very new to me when I was given the opportunity to view probably one of the true masterpieces of modern cinema. The film has basically everything going for it, whether it’s a complete story that moves you along and never stops until the credits role, or the fact that the actors truly capture their roles, or just because you can still have fun with this film. “Old Boy” is the second Vengeance film in the Park Chanwook trilogy, the first being Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and the final being Sympathy for Lady Vengeance which was just released this year. Old Boy fits into that classic middle chapter that might just make it the most disturbing of all films. During this film we are given some horrific details on why this all went about, which still has me thinking up these entire theories on how Dae-su will live with himself. The only part that makes me scratch my head is the final scenes, a little bit stupid for my taste, but it doesn’t take away from the movie.

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Musa : The Warrior (KOREA 2001)

Director : Kim Sung-su
Cast : Ahn Sung-Ki, Jung Woo-sung, Joo Jin-mo, Zhang Ziyi and Yu Rong-guang

Synopsis
In the late fourteenth century a Korean diplomatic envoy is sent to make peace with the new Ming government but its members are accused of spying and are ultimately exiled to a remote desert in the west. Upon escaping from their captures and heading home for Korea, they come across Yuan soldiers who have kidnapped a Ming princess, Princess Fu-Rong (Zhang Ziyi), and decide to rescue her in order to secure safe passage home by the Ming court.

Review
by Vincent Yeoh

Directed by Kim Sung-su who has already established his finely polished, Hong Kong inspired action in contemporary films like Beat (1997) and City of the Rising Sun (1998). In Musa he’s taken a large scale period drama epic and given it a dose of dramatic realism, which lacks nothing as a historical epic and yet has better action sequences then some Hollywood productions of a similar scale without having to resort to the use of CGI characters. Musa is a record breaker, having taken five years to make and being the most expensive move in Korean history with a budget of 8 million Korean dollars. This movie runs at almost 3 hours long and is long to sit through.

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Memories of Murder (KOREA 2003)

Director : Joon-ho Bong
Cast :  Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim, Jae-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Seo-hie Ko and No-shik Park.

Synopsis :
South Korea in 1986 under the military dictatorship: Two rural cops and a special detective from the capital investigate a series of brutal rape murder. Their rude measures become more desperate with each new corpse found. Based on a true case.

Review
by Edward Tang

Memories of Murder is very much different from this round of things, the killer is never seen and although he is a psycho, his killings are not only disgusting, but neat. There truly isn’t a corpse that is seen all sliced up and shit to gain shock value, they actually focus on the storytelling element. Even though there isn’t an “ending” to this noise, the “whodunit” factor always comes into play. Beautifully shot, from long fields to dark nights filled with blood and rain. A superb cast that includes some great performances, mostly from the likes of Kang-ho Song (JSA).

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