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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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Master of the Flying Guillotine (HK 1975)

Director : Jimmy Wang Yu
Cast : Jimmy Wang Yu, Kang Kam, Chung-erh Lung, Chia Yung Liu, Lung Wei Wang and Tsim Po Sham

Review
by Edward Tang

The Ultimate Uncut Version. Wow, this is a film I’ve always remembered, not because it displays the best martial arts on film, just because it is probably one of the most unique and obscure titles out there. Jimmy Wang Yu has an impressive background, a lot of his films are classic. He wasn’t the best “fighter” but he had charisma that others lacked. In this, he plays the one-armed boxer, a good fighter with good morals. Wang Yu also directed this film, and as you notice if you see it, it might just be one of the campiest films ever created. But don’t get me wrong, martial arts is truly shown in the best sequence in the film, about 25-30 minutes of pure action. All different types of fighting are shown from long swords to yoga.

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Living Hell / Iki-jigoku (JAPAN 2000)

Director : Shugo Fujii
Cast :  Hirohito Honda, Yoshiko Shiraishi, Rumi, Kazuo Yashiro, Naoko Mori, Shugo Fujii and Hitoshi Suwabe

Synopsis
Chiyo, an old woman and her granddaughter, Yuki, are the sole survivors of a horrendous crime which wipes out an entire family. They find solace under the roof of far-removed relatives. The family’s son, confined to a wheelchair, has a terrible premonition when the two women arrive, which will be verified in the most horrifying way. Because, when the house is empty, the boy is made to suffer sadistic games at the women mercy, which become more and more violent making his life a living hell.

Review
by Edward Tang

Right off the bat, Living Hell catches your attention with it’s bizarre music and of course a girl eating a dog. Yeah eating a dog. I hate horror films because most of them lack creativity and they just play with a simple idea for the length of the film. Most of the time you are given one thing, and they try to play you on it for the entire film. Then all of a sudden, some sort of a surprise occurs, which drags us into the other parallel, either something is wrong with the main character, or something is revealed to change our perception of what is exactly going on. This film is exactly what I am talking about. “Living Hell” is bizarre in the fact that they actually tried to build a story! Rather than give us one detail and run for that the entire show, they build onto what we already know. This film isn’t full of that many violent scenes, and surely isn’t a heart pounder, but it gives you enough odd moments to throw eggs at. When the truth is revealed at the end of the film, to me, if felt like rehashed material from a prior film. Whether or not you like this sort of thing, Living Hell dishes out enough odd moments to annoy any person who has a regular IQ. Being compared to genre classics such as “The Evil Dead” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a waste and only to grab hopeful Blockbuster renters.

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