Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Korean Films: One Against All (2013 Week 6)

(by Fabien Schneider)

Small week for Korean film releases, since there is only one new film that will land in theaters. But it's not slouch as this is another movie widely anticipated by the public, and it will bravely attempt to overthrow the established order in the box office. I can easily understand why no other distributor has dared to release a film at the moment, as the market is now completely saturated by three Korean films, that together attracted three million viewers last weekend. Thus the film Fool has been postponed until next week to afford him a better chance.

Southbound  (남쪽 으로 튀어)

Choi Hae-gap, a former dissident student and activist, has now settled down in a quiet life with his wife, also a former activist, and their three children. He has, however, never abandoned his left-wing (or even anarchic) beliefs as he doesn’t work and always keeps an eye on the education of his children. He prohibits them from drinking Coca-Cola or coffee from Starbucks, and instead supports local merchants by buying local products, etc. Nara cannot understand his father, and when he finds himself accused by his school for having caused a fight, it’s the last straw that breaks the camel’s back for Hae-gap who has always been opposed to the national education system. He decides the next day to move with the whole family to a remote island in the south of the peninsula, in his hometown. But even this little piece of land is not immune to raging economic development, and it will not be long before the parents resume the fight and teach their children the meaning of the words “regime” and “exploitation.”

Although this film only has one real star in the cast, it seems to meet all the conditions to become a serious challenger for Miracle in Cell No. 7 and The Berlin File. Inspired from the homonymous bestselling novel by Japanese writer Hideo Okuda published in 2006 in Korea (which had already been adapted in Japan in 2007), the script has already been approved by the public and can be considered a safe value. The choice of Kim Yoon-seok is a nice stroke of genius, because the role seems to really be cut out for him, and he already demonstrated a great comic talent in Punch (2011). He seems to have embraced his role very well since he is also credited for the screenplay, which tends to make me think he personalized much of his lines. Having been on the top of the bill in The Thieves last year, he will benefit the film with his huge celebrity. But what makes me personally really eager to see this film is that it is directed by Lim Soon-rye. She had previously offered to us Waikiki Brothers (2001) and Forever The Moment (2007), her two best-known films, but it was only in her last two films that she has established her own style. The excellent Fly Penguin (2009) is a perfect example, in which she already shared her ambition for serious political and social criticism. She was also interested in rural life with Rolling Home With a Bull (2010). We can therefore expect that she’ll also tackle in Southbound serious issues under the dress of humor. Its success should be comparable to the aforementioned Punch which was also a mix of comedy and serious issues, and should be enough to overcome Miracle in Cell No. 7 this week, but probably not The Berlin File. In any case I cannot wait to watch this one.

Watch the trailer 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 UpdateKorean 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. 

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