Girls and Dolls - The Many Faces of Bae Doo-na SNOWPIERCER Stays Uncut but Release Downsized Review: THE ATTORNEY MKC's Coverage of Korea's Berlinale Lineup Top 10 Korean Films of 2013

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hero (Hi-eo-ro) 2010

It wasn’t even a minute after turning on Hero that I realised I was truly scraping the bottom of the barrel.  Frankly, the only reason I watched it was to be thorough with regards to my soon to be published 2010 Korean film project.  In order to really examine the year’s output, I feel obliged to watch some films that I know are going to be bad but I always hope that they may surprise me.  Hero went the other way, it landed severely below my already diminished expectations.  I’m nearly inclined to think that the whole thing is some kind of joke, to say that the film eschews realism is putting it mildly.  It seems to me that there are entire scenes missing as the plot jumps from one place to the next.  For a moment I even thought this may have been some kind of student film but after a little research it seems that director Kim Hong-ik has had over a decade of experience, which means I can’t really cut him any slack.  Hero only sold 1500 tickets in Korea and this makes me wonder what kind of market it was intended for.  With such a poor showing I can’t imagine it was marketed aggressively for its theatre run, maybe it was initially conceived as a TV and straight to DVD release.

Bullied in high school
In any case, Hero is a high school vampire film, clearly trying to milk the global Twilight phenomenon.  Sim-dan (Kim Hyeong-gyoo-I) is a high school student, constantly bullied, and in love with Mi-ah (Lee Da-in), who he has had a bad habit of videotaping surreptitiously.  Yoo-ri (Han Ye-won), a vampire, bits him one night and turns him.  Thereafter, he becomes stronger, meaning he can confront his tormentors, and more confident, so he can make his move on Mi-ah.  You can guess how the rest of it unfolds.

As I frequently mention (and celebrate) on this site, Korean cinema is very adept at blending different genres.  Hero, rather than successfully sampling different generic tropes, simply doesn’t know what it wants to be, as it dabbles in comedy, horror, drama, romance, etc.  More worrisome is the amateurish mise-en-scene.  The editing, camerawork, and especially the sound are poor quality, mistakes are frequent and disruptive.  The soundtrack is also far too prominent, it places too much emphasis on certain pieces of music at varying points. 

Sim-dan and Yoo-ri, the vampire who turned him
While the film starts out very badly, it does balance itself out somewhat after the opening act, though it still leaves much to be desired.  I don’t want to waste your time discussing this film so I’ll keep it brief.  Hero should probably be avoided by all but the least discerning spectators.  Its cocktail of bad acting, shoddy production values, and incoherent plotting is the result of laziness on the part of the filmmakers and if they can’t respect their audience enough to make a real effort, than I daresay you shouldn’t give them your time or money.


Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema.  For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-up, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (GMT+1).

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment