Review: GANGNAM BLUES, a Gorgeously Overwrought Gangster Classic in the Making MKC's Top 10 Korean Films of 2014 News: Gong Yoo Joins Yeon Sang-ho's Live Action Zombie Thriller BUSAN-BOUND 23 Most Anticipated Korean Films of 2015 Review: THE ROYAL TAILOR Spins a Colorful Period Yarn

Friday, January 30, 2015

News: All Aboard! SNOWPIERCER Spoof Coming This Year


By Pierce Conran

The most well known Korean film of the last few years is coming back to screens, reimagined as an erotic parody. Bong Man-dae, the director of Cinderella (2006) and Playboy Bong (2013), though most well known as a purveyor of softcore erotica, is turning Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer into Rice Cake Soup Train (Ddeok-gook-yeol-cha, 떡국열차). That title's a bit of a mouthful (sorry, had to do it) but it makes more sense in Korean. If and when they decide this could target a foreign audience, I'm sure they'll come up with something better.

Review: Stylish And Well Performed, SCARLET INNOCENCE Surprises And Delights


By Pierce Conran

Adapted from a Korean folk tale and starting off as a softly lensed romantic melodrama, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Scarlet Innocence, the latest work from noted visual stylist Yim Pil-sung, must be primed for a local audience. Yet this surprising genre-bending effort, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, holds off from showing its true colors until it has lulled you into a comfortable reverie. A successful exercise in subverting expectations, Scarlet Innocence may also prove a watershed moment for Yim, an acclaimed director whose high profile and gorgeously designed works have so far failed to translate into box office returns.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

News: BIFF Director Stays on, Censorship Concerns Linger


By Pierce Conran

Click here to read about the events leading up to this story.

It appears that Busan Film Festival director Lee Yong-kwan will not be leaving his post for the moment. Lee and BIFF executive programmer Kim Ji-seok met with Busan City mayor Suh Byung-soo and culture and tourism bureau director-general Kim Kwang-hee on Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: GYEONGJU, Not Just a Place But an Idea


By Rex Baylon

“You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

- Thomas Wolfe

News: Lotte Picks up TERMINATOR, Still No Release for MEMORIES OF THE SWORD


By Pierce Conran

In an unusual move, Paramount announced earlier this month that their summer tentpole Terminator: Genisys would not be distributed by their usual partner CJ Entertainment in Korea. That position has now been filled by Lotte Entertainment, which will release the film in July.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Coming Attractions: Can EMPIRE OF LUST Keep the Fires of the Period Drama Burning?


By Rex Baylon

The period drama boom in the Korean film industry seems to show no signs of abating as March will see the release of Empire of Lust, Ahn Sang-hoon's third feature after Arang (2006) and Blind (2011). The film stars Shin Ha-kyun (Save the Green Planet, 2003), playing Kim Min-jae, the supreme commander of the Joseon dynasty, Jang Hyuk (The Flu, 2013) as the king's son, and Kang Ha-neul (Mourning Grave) as Min-jae's hedonistic son.

News: Bong Joon-ho to Sit on Berlinale International Jury


By Pierce Conran

The Berlin International Film Festival just held a press conference to announced the full jury for the international competition of its 65th edition next month. Bong is also part of this year's Berlinale Talents, where he will give a talk on transnational filmmaking. His last film Snowpiercer was screened at Berlinale in 2014.

News: HAN GONG-JU Named Best Film by Korean Film Reporters Association


By Pierce Conran

Lee Su-jin's Han Gong-ju has been named the Best Korean Film of 2014 by the Korean Film Reporters Association. The group also voted the film's star, Chun Woo-hee, as last year's Best Actress, while veteran Choi Min-sik was deemed Best Actor for his performance in the record-breaking period smash Roaring Currents.

Monday, January 26, 2015

News: Busan Asks BIFF Director to Step Down, He Refuses (2nd UPDATE)


By Pierce Conran

2nd Update (01/27) - Though the basic facts remains the same (refer to the original post and 1st update below), here is some clarification on the current situation, as explained in a Screen Daily article:
  • Last Friday (January 23rd), BIFF Director Lee Yong-kwan met with Jung Gyung-jin, Busan's vice mayor for administrative affairs, and culture and tourism bureau director-general Kim Kwang-hee. Citing the poor results of a recent audit (which were not shared with Lee), they suggested he should step down. Lee inquired as to whether they were conveying Busan Mayor Suh Byung-soo's opinion. They confirmed this to be the case.

Review: Straightforward Action in NO TEARS FOR THE DEAD


By Hieu Chau

Writer-director Lee Jeong-beom made a big splash in 2010 when his confidently made action feature The Man from Nowhere became a box office hit in South Korea. It made a believable action star out of its lead, Won Bin, and had an emotional core that helped it lean closer towards other, well-established action films of its ilk such as Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional (1994) or Tony Scott’s Man on Fire (2004). Lee follows a similar format with his newest ultraviolent follow up, No Tears for the Dead, which at times feels like it could have been another Tony Scott film.

Coming Attractions: A MATTER OF INTERPRETATION Leaves It Up To You


By Rex Baylon

Lee Kwang-kuk returns after a two year hiatus with his sophomore film A Matter of Interpretation. For those who might have forgotten, Lee spent his formative years as assistant director to festival darling Hong Sangsoo before finally debuting as director with 2012's Romance Joe.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reel Talk: GANGNAM BLUES and Korean Gangster Cinema


Every Friday I appear on a segment called Reel Talk for Arirang TV on the 2 o'clock news, mostly covering Korean cinema.

I've made no secret of my love for Yoo Ha's comeback Gangnam Blues (you can read MKC's review here) and this week on Reel Talk I took the opportunity to sing its praises and briefly look back over the rich history of Korean gangster cinema.