Despite all the snow that has recently covered the Korean peninsula, there will be no need this week to adjust the radiators to warm up all the movie-goers. By a strange coincidence that only the distribution companies bosses can explain, the two Korean movies opening this week are adults-only, due to their racy content. It will be very interesting to compare their approach and the resulting public reception. In fact, I could have also included in this article the co-produced (China, Korea and Japan) Speed Angels, but I hesitated as it is more of a Chinese film shot in South Korea, and anyway the critics have reported that it’s not indispensable.
In a wealthy family with a perfect and peaceful appearance, are hidden many scandalous secrets as one extramarital relationship follows another. The good husband Jeong-min has a passionate romance with his young doctorate student Yun-jeong, while Hye-gyeong, the sweet mother and perfect wife, accepts the offer of a photographer to pose as a nude model and finally goes to him at his place every night.
With this film, the distribution company TimeStory Group probably hopes to replicate the moderate success they had with My Secret Partner in 2011. This film was nevertheless made a few years ago, in 2009, and apparently struggled to hit theaters, or even circulate through festivals. The reason however couldn’t be a lack of quality in production, because the film is coming from theTaewon Entertainment, which has financed among others the last two episodes of Marrying the Mafia (2011 and 2012) or Eye for an Eye (2008), and despite what can be said about their critical worth, these movies all had a high production level. Tummy is the second film from director Park Bo-sang, whose first film also has never been released in theaters. The main attraction point that the film is selling to the public is the prospect of finding Lee Mi-sook in steamy scenes, she who was already so offhandedly naked in the irreverent Mulberry (1985). Some will also remember her part as a mute prostitute in Whale Hunting (1984), a movie that marked a whole generation and may solely justify her later appearance in Actresses (2009). What is worrying me is the lack of promotion of the film: not the slightest teaser video can be found on the internet, which is almost a suicide in the world of marketing in Korea. But the presence of Lee Mi-sook should at least attract a curious crowd of middle-aged people.
A man and two women are in a quest of eroticism in their lifes for various reasons, and are designated by three letters: B, E and D. B is a man in a deep depression who seeks comfort with different women; E is a married woman jaded by life who seeks to satisfy her desire with B; D is a woman attempting to balance her role between the woman with a promising career and the exemplary wife after her marriage with B. These three stories will meet in B.E.D.
While Tummy enfolds a family-comedy in eroticism, B.E.D seems more likely to create drama from eroticism. Behind the camera, none other than Park Chul-soo, veteran director who started in the 70s, during the era of strong censorship policy that simultaneously encouraged erotic content in cinema, so it is not really surprising that this film and his previous one (Red Vacance Black Wedding, 2011) are both forbidden to minors. His best known works are 301, 302 (1995) and Green Chair (2005), but his works are nowadays quite fluctuant in quality. Presented at the film festival in Busan, Modern Korean Cinema has already published a not so convinced opinion about it. Without celebrity to support it against Tummy, and its restrictive age limit and more serious tone, it would already be a surprise if this film manages to enter the top 10 at the box office.
Watch the trailer here or read MKC's review here
New Korean Films is a weekly feature which provide an in-depth look at new local releases in Korea. For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update, Korean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time). Reviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site.